washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

Political Strategy Notes

How risky is the Biden campaign’s decision to skip campaign rallies? Not very, according to Alan I. Abramowitz, who writes in “Do Campaign Visits Pay Off? Evidence from the 2016 Presidential Election” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “In order to estimate the impact that campaign visits had on the election results, I conducted a regression analysis of the results in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. I used the Democratic vote margin as the dependent variable and the relative number of campaign visits to each state along with the Democratic vote margin in the 2012 presidential election as independent variables…the relative number of campaign trips to a state by Trump and Clinton had no effect on the results…With infection levels rising in many states and several Trump campaign staffers having tested positive for COVID-19, it is not clear how many more live rallies the Trump campaign will be able to conduct between now and Election Day. The Biden campaign currently has no plans to hold live campaign rallies. However, the findings reported in this article indicate that whether either campaign holds live rallies and whether one holds more rallies than the other will probably have little or no impact on the election results at the state level. Campaign events may have other benefits such as energizing supporters and stimulating donations, but in 2016 they did not appear to have any effect on how well candidates did in the states in which they were held.”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains “Why progressives should welcome anti-Trump Republicans,” and observes “if you believe (as I certainly do) that defeating President Trump is the prerequisite for anything good happening again in American politics, you should welcome everyone willing to help get the job done. And in light of Trump’s threats to challenge the results if he loses, the health of our democracy may depend on Biden’s winning by a landslide that would leave not a smidgen of doubt about what the voters were saying. This is an all-hands-on-deck proposition…But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves: If the race tightens, the Republican converts could be essential to getting Biden over the line…Finally, for a progressive program to have any chance in Congress, the Democrats will have to take over the Senate. The bigger Biden’s margin, the better the chances of this happening…That Trump and Trumpism create a national emergency is reason enough to pitch a very big tent. But this election could also open the way for a durable shift in the nation’s dominant public philosophy toward social decency and greater equality. A transformation of that sort requires the witness of converts.”

In her Fox News opinion article, “To win presidency and majorities in Congress, Democrats should follow this battle plan,” Donna Brazile writes: “So, putting aside the purported current state of this election campaign, here is what Democrats need to do to win the White House, retake control of the Senate, and expand their majority in the House…The four most important letters in politics are GOTV — Get Out the Vote! I know that sounds obvious. But in the middle of a deadly pandemic, getting out the vote in November will be both incredibly challenging and more important than ever before…Democratic candidates need to make this election a referendum on Donald Trump’s lack of character, utter absence of empathy, unethical use of the presidency to boost his business earnings and attack his enemies, and total lack of qualifications to be our nation’s leader…In focusing on the issues that matter to Americans, Democrats must convince voters across the political spectrum that, unlike Trump, we can be trusted. We care about people over profits. And we can unify our country after four of the most divisive years in our country’s history…Democrats must highlight the extreme right-wing trajectory of the federal bench under Trump, and tell the American people how this will immediately change on the day Biden becomes president and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., becomes Senate majority leader…”

Brazile adds, “In distinguishing our candidates from Trump, Democrats must be laser-focused on the issues, and on character and unity. We cannot respond to every inane Trump tweet, every shameless attack, and every contrived dispute. Instead, we must seize specific opportunities to rebut Trump’s angry and divisive approach to politics, by putting forward Democrats’ positive and bipartisan approach to governing…Democratic candidates must also show how the Republican Party has been co-opted by Trump. We must tell the American people how we will focus on unifying our country and ending the chaos that Trump brought to Washington. And we must highlight how Republicans have been complicit in this chaos, when they prioritize loyalty to their party and to Trump over the American people…So with 100 days until Election Day 2020, this is my message — and my warning — to Democratic candidates and our potential supporters: Get out the vote!  And focus on character, unity, and the issues that are most important to the American people, and to the voters in your individual states and congressional districts.”

Writing in Newsweek, Martin Luther King III shared the following thoughts on Rep. John Lews’s legacy and challenge to progressives: “Lewis understood that the unobstructed right to vote for all citizens, regardless of their race, religion or gender, is the cornerstone of every great democracy. A recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Prize, Lewis worked tirelessly to end voter suppression practices that are still being deployed. The Voting Rights Alliance lists 61 forms of voter suppression. These include: reducing the number of polling places in communities of color, intimidating voters on Election Day, “caging” and purging of registration rolls in selected ZIP codes, discriminatory voter identification requirements, draconian felon disenfranchisement laws, faulty voting machines in minority precincts, manipulation of legal residency requirements for college students, shrinking the window for early voting in key states and excessive restrictions on voting by mail, to name just a few…The daunting challenges Americans face in 2020, including police violence and its cascading repercussions in many American communities, deepening polarization and the COVID-19 pandemic, underscore the enormous consequences of our elections and the leaders we chose to guide us through crises. My fervent hope that the celebration of Lewis’ life and legacy will energize millions of Americans to vote and elect leaders who will honor his memory by passing laws to make it easier, not harder, to vote…We cannot rest until exercising the right to vote is simple and easy for all Americans. Restoring the Voting Rights Act to its full strength is one of the best ways we can honor the life and legacy of Lewis.”

At abcnews.go.com, Alisa Wiersema reports that “available data seems to indicate that Democrats are leaning into mail voting in greater numbers than Republicans…In the key battleground of Florida and Ohio, Democrats outpaced Republicans in absentee ballot requests during primary contests. North Carolina, another state that is crucial for the presidential electoral count, is slated to be among the first to mail general election ballots this fall. There, Democrats’ requests for absentee ballots currently top Republicans by nearly five times…As of Wednesday, in Florida, 210,593 Democrats had already cast mail ballots for the state’s August primary election, compared to 175,458 Republicans according to data provided by the Florida Division of Elections. Last week, Florida Democrats announced more than one million Democrats had enrolled or renewed their vote by mail enrollment in the time since the March presidential preference primary. Currently, Sunshine State Democrats tout an enrollment advantage of more than 400,000 voters over Republicans.”

Wiersema notes further, “A similar scenario appears to be unfolding in the battleground state of North Carolina, where according to data provided by the state’s Board of Elections, as of Thursday, 44,555 Democrats so far had requested absentee ballots for the November general election. At the same time, just 8,623 Republicans had done the same…A week out from the contest, [Republican Secretary of State Frank] LaRose announced that 1,667,883 Ohioans had requested a vote-by-mail ballot. Of the data available at the time, 866,104 of them were Democrats and 705,478 were Republicans. At that point, Democrats had also cast 88,000 more ballots than Republicans.As of July 17, 534,610 Democrats in Kentucky — where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection — had requested absentee ballot applications, compared with 318,729 Republicans. In Maine, Sen. Susan Collins, the last New England Republican in either chamber of Congress, is facing her toughest reelection battle yet. There, McDonald’s data analysis indicated that 132,536 Democrats requested mail ballots for the June 14 primary, compared with 38,516 Republicans.”

Maeve Reston reports that “From Donald Trump to Ted Yoho, Republicans are losing with women voters” at CNN Politics: “The President was trailing Vice President Joe Biden by 25 points among women (35% to Biden’s 60%) in the recent Washington Post-ABC News poll and by 28 points in the mid-July Quinnipiac poll that showed Biden leading Trump among female voters 59% to 31%…Those numbers should be particularly alarming to the Trump campaign given that Democrats’ best result among women in a national presidential exit poll was 56% to 43% in 2008, the year that Barack Obama vanquished Arizona Sen. John McCain. Among White women in the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, 50% backed Biden, 46% Trump…CNN’s Director of Polling and Election Analytics Jennifer Agiesta notes that Democrats have never won a majority of White women according to exit polls dating back to 1972. (Former President Bill Clinton won White women by 48% to 43% in 1996, but the party has never gotten to the 50% threshold or above). In 2016, Trump carried White women 52% to 43% over Hillary Clinton, a Democrat. Only 4% of Black women voted for Trump, and only 25% of Latinas supported him…In a fresh round of CNN polling released Sunday, Biden’s advantage in the swing states of Michigan, Arizona, and Florida was largely driven by his edge among women, according to Agiesta.”

Also at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Thurgood Marshall, J. and Steven Okun warn “Given a recent survey finding that Joe Biden holds a 34-point advantage over Donald Trump with 18-29 year olds, if the 2020 presidential race is just as close in key states as the one in 2016, fewer students voting could keep the former vice president from winning a race he otherwise would have…In 2016, over 50 colleges had more students than the presidential margins in their states…Certainly, fewer college students voting could create the potential for dozens of down-ballot races to be influenced…Not enough resources are being allocated to find ways to ensure students are registered to vote, and then follow through on voting. There is a danger that we might not even reach the previous 48% threshold of college students who voted in 2016…When the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University asked youth if they could register to vote online in their state, one-third said they did not know, and one-quarter who said yes were incorrect. In addition, only 24% reported having voted by mail before.”


Political Strategy Notes

“In deploying federal forces,” Ronald Brownstein writes at The Atlantic, “Trump appears to be trying to provoke clashes with protesters, which he can use to convince white suburban voters that he’s the last line of defense between them and the chaos allegedly incubating in cities, Rahm Emanuel, the former Chicago mayor, told me. Referring to the street battle between construction workers and anti-war protesters in Manhattan in 1970, Emanuel said, “Trump is trying to create his own hard-hat riot, and they are wearing [law-enforcement] helmets.”…The political risk for Republicans in that strategy, many political observers told me, is not only that it could provoke more opposition from residents in the city centers, but that it could also accelerate the shift toward Democrats in the large, well-educated, and more and more diverse inner suburbs around the major cities. Over time, the “larger denser suburbs” have become “like cities and throw in with the cities”—they don’t identify as much with the less-populated areas, says Robert Lang, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program and a co-author of the upcoming book Blue Metros, Red States.”

“The politics of all these proliferating battles between Republican officials and Democratic cities may unfold at two levels,” Brownstein continues. “With Trump monumentally unpopular in urban centers but still strong in rural places, the most immediate political question is how suburban voters will respond…since the 1990s, more suburbanites have concluded that their political views align more with the diverse, cosmopolitan cities nearby than with the more culturally conservative, preponderantly white, and Christian smaller places far from the urban core. Under Trump that process has intensified: He’s precipitated a significant shift toward the Democrats in white-collar suburbs that fueled the party’s sweeping gains in the House in 2018. Though Republicans once could count on big margins as soon as they crossed a city’s boundaries, Lang notes, now, in most places, “the line for Republicans has moved outward further” in the metro, he says…Trump’s alarms about “angry mobs” and “violent mayhem” in Democratic cities might allow him to recapture some Republican-leaning white suburbanites and energize his rural and small-town support, analysts in both parties told me. But as I’ve written before, his belligerent tone simultaneously risks hardening the opposition he’s facing from the many suburban voters who feel that he’s exposing them to more danger—both in his response to the policing protests and his unrelenting push to reopen the economy despite the coronavirus’s resurgence. In last week’s national Quinnipiac University poll, just over seven in 10 white voters holding at least a four-year college degree disapproved of Trump’s handling of both race relations and the outbreak.”

At The New York Times, columnist Thomas B. Edsall takes a look at a range of studies of the determinates of liberal and conservative views, and his findings may help explain Trump’s messaging success in 2016. As Edsall writes “In a February 2019 paper, “Liberals lecture, conservatives communicate: Analyzing complexity and ideology in 381,609 political speeches,” four political scientists, Martijn Schoonvelde, Anna Brosius, Gijs Schumacher and Bert N. Bakker, argue that “speakers from culturally liberal parties use more complex language than speakers from culturally conservative parties” and that this variance in linguistic complexity is “rooted in personality differences among conservative and liberal politicians. The former prefer short, unambiguous statements, and the latter prefer longer compound sentences, expressing multiple points of view.”…The authors cite studies suggesting that this linguistic divide is persistent: “The Readability and Simplicity of Donald Trump’s Language,” published in The Political Studies Review and “Research on linguistic habits of American and British politicians shows that conservative politicians make less complex statements than liberal politicians.”

Edsall writes, further, “One study showed that “the speeches of liberal US presidents score higher on integrative complexity than those of conservatives, as measured by the presence of “words involved in differentiation (exclusive words, tentative words, negations) as well as integration of different perspectives (conjunctions).”…Another found that “conservative political bloggers use less complex language than their liberal counterparts and conservative citizens use language that scores lower on integrative complexity than liberal citizens.”…Separate studies of the language used by presidents — both “The Readability and Simplicity of Donald Trump’s Language,” and an analysis of the language used by the last 15 presidents on the blog Factbase — concluded that President Trump speaks at the lowest level of all those studied, as measured on the on the Flesch-Kincaid index. As Factbase put it: “By any metric to measure vocabulary, using more than a half dozen tests with different methodologies, Donald Trump has the most basic, most simplistically constructed, least diverse vocabulary of any president in the last 90 years.”

In addition, Edsall notes that “Some scholars argue that a focus on ideological conflict masks the most salient divisions in the era of Donald Trump: authoritarians versus non-authoritarians…Karen Stenner, the author of “The Authoritarian Dynamic,” emailed me on this point to say that “It’s really critical to help people understand the difference between conservatives and authoritarians. Conservatives are by nature opposed to change and novelty, whereas authoritarians are averse to diversity and complexity. It’s a subtle but absolutely critical distinction…“What we’re facing,” she continued, “is an authoritarian revolution — not a conservative revolution, the term is inherently contradictory — which in the U.S. has been creeping up since the 1960s…Authoritarianism, Stenner continued, is “clearly distinct from what I call “laissez faire conservatism.” In fact, in cross-national research I consistently find that these two dimensions are actually negatively related. If anything, authoritarians tend to be wary of free markets and more supportive of government intervention and redistribution, perhaps even schemes of equalization and progressive taxation.””

Trump’s messaging has taken the politics of distraction to a new low, piling one outrage on top of another so quickly that the news media has trouble keeping focused on his unprecedented corruption. “Trump has been involved in so many scandals and says so many reprehensible things,” writes E. J. Dionne, Jr. in his Washington Post column, “that our country has developed a kind of herd immunity to the outrage that just one of his actions would have called forth in any previous administration. We have allowed Trump to fend off one scandal with . . . another scandal…The key is seeing that Trump’s entirely selfish approach to the presidency has a measurable and material impact on the lives of citizens and on the policies he pursues — to the extent that he is interested in policy at all. He cares above all about his own finances, his ego, his ratings and escaping accountability. Everything else falls by the wayside …Trump’s opponents cannot assume, as they did in 2016, that if they drive home just how awful Trump is personally, voters will recoil in horror. This year, it is essential to make the case that Trump’s corruption means that most of the time he pays no attention to governing. And when he does, he governs in a way that subordinates the public interest to his own interests — and the interests of those who keep him in power.”

The Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Indexmeasures how much more Democratic or Republican a district performs compared to the national average.” For example, AL-1 has a p.v.i. rating of R+15, which means that this congressional district voted an average of 15 points more for Republican presidential candidates than the national average in the last two presidential elections.  To find out your congressional district’s p.v.i., click here.

In his article, “Primary voting was a disaster. The general election doesn’t have to be that way,” David Litt, former speechwriter for President Barack Obama and author of “Democracy In One Book Or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn’t, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think,” writes: “But it’s not too late to protect the integrity of the 2020 election while making it safe for every eligible American to vote. There are simple steps states and counties can take that would dramatically reduce the possibility of disaster at the ballot box or mailbox this year…First, states must set clear ground rules as early as possible. Because the impacts of coronavirus weren’t really felt in America until March, many officials had little time to make decisions about how to run the primary election process, leading to fear and confusion among the electorate. But when it comes to the general election, we have more time to prepare…Who automatically gets sent an absentee ballot? How many polling places remain open? When is the deadline for ballots to be sent or received? With the coronavirus still raging across the country, these kinds of questions must be decided decisively and quickly enough that any legal challenges to new rules can work their way through the courts.”

Litt adds, “Second, when adapting to the virus, states should err on the side of making it easier, not harder, to vote. Contrary to President Donald Trump’s evidence-free tweets, there’s no indication that mail-in voting will lead to large-scale election fraud. Five states already conducted their elections entirely by mail before the pandemic hit, and the President himself voted by mail in 2018. But there is clear evidence that confusion over mail-in balloting, coupled with overly strict rules about which ballots do and do not count, can discourage voting and invalidate eligible citizens’ ballots…To prevent this, states should mail all registered voters not only an absentee ballot, but clear instructions for how to use it. Upon receiving those ballots, states should apply the election equivalent of “innocent until proven guilty.” Rather than assume ballots with small errors are fraudulent and shouldn’t be counted, they should assume they’re valid and should be counted. In practice, this means making an aggressive effort to contact voters whose ballots are in danger of being thrown out for minor errors and giving them ample time to correct any irregularities…By acting quickly and taking commonsense, non-partisan steps, we can preserve the most important element of our country’s promise: that we, the people, can shape our destiny together.”


Political Strategy Notes

At Sabato’s Crystall Ball, Louis Jacobson takes a look at the longer horizon of elections and sketches “The Future Shape of the Senate.” As Jacobsen writes, “The Constitution divides the Senate into three “classes” that face the voters on six-year cycles. Under today’s political dynamics, the class that faced the voters in 2018 was favorable to the Republicans, while the class that faces the voters in 2020 is favorable to the Democrats…What about the class that faces the voters in 2022? Our analysis shows that this class is also favorable to the Democrats…If the Democrats manage to seize the Senate majority in 2020, the relatively pro-Democratic map in 2022 could insulate the party somewhat if Joe Biden is elected president and a midterm backlash benefiting the GOP emerges…The Democrats will need to run up the score in the Senate in both 2020 and 2022 if they are going to keep the majority past the 2024 elections, when the Republicans benefit from an extremely favorable map for their party.”

In his Washington Post column, E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes about a new opportunity for bipartisan legislation that can help working people. “Last week, a group of socially conservative luminaries — are they the last surviving “compassionate conservatives”? — strongly endorsed further aid for some of the most economically vulnerable people in our country…In a letter organized by W. Bradford Wilcox of the Institute for Family Studies and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the signers called for an expansion of the earned-income tax credit, which, as they noted, “rewards work,” and a $2,000 payment this fall under the Child Tax Credit program…Progressives rightly take conservatives to task for preaching about “family values” without offering any concrete help for parents desperate to build better lives for their children. Here, happily, is one occasion when words and deeds intersect…And the Child Tax Credit is the ideal policy for bringing together the left and the kinder-hearted right. Expanding the credit has been a major cause of a group of Democrats that includes Sens. Michael F. Bennet (Colo.), Cory Booker (N.J.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio), as well as Reps. Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn.), Suzan DelBene (Wash.), Richard E. Neal (Mass.) — and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). Versions of it have also won endorsement from Republican Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah) and Josh Hawley (Mo.).”

In her article, “Nearly 6 million donors contributed record $710 million through ActBlue in three months, group says,” Fredrecka Schouten notes at CNN politics that “In all five Senate contests considered toss-ups by the Cook Political Report — races in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Maine and Montana — Democratic challengers outraised Republican incumbent senators during the April-to-June fundraising quarter, according to candidate filings with the Federal Election Commission …Democrats need a net gain of just four seats to seize the chamber from Republicans or three if Democrat Joe Biden wins the presidency and his vice president breaks ties in a 50-50 Senate. Republicans have sought to catch up to Democrats’ online advantage…WinRed, launched last year as a conservative counterweight to ActBlue, raised more than $275 million for Republican candidates in the second quarter, the group previously announced. That set a record for the GOP platform.”

At Vox, Ezra Klein reports, “Last week, Joe Biden held a 45-minute call with a small group of reporters, including myself. The main subject of the conversation was Biden’s new plan, Build Back Better: a new, post-Covid framework for his proposals to build clean energy infrastructure, revitalize American manufacturing, make care work pay for those who do it and affordable for those who need it, and address racial inequalities. My question was simple. Democrats don’t have a path to 60 seats in the Senate. So how will Biden keep his agenda from dying at the hands of the filibuster? Would he support filibuster reform, or elimination? Biden’s reply was his campaign in miniature, reflecting both the instincts that have made him successful and the caution that has frustrated many on the left…“I think it’s going to depend on how obstreperous they” — meaning Republicans — “become, and if they become that way,” he replied. “I have not supported the elimination of the filibuster because it has been used as often to protect rights I care about as the other way around. But you’re going to have to take a look at it.”…That answer, which reflected a genuine shift in Biden’s rhetoric on the issue, made some headlines. But it wasn’t the end of Biden’s argument. “I’ll say something outrageous,” he continued. “I think I have a pretty good record of pulling together Democrats and Republicans.” He went on to say many Senate Republicans will feel “a bit liberated” by Trump’s defeat and may be ready to work with Democrats on issues like infrastructure and racial inequality.”

Klein also observes, “After the 2016 election, panicked, wounded Democrats settled on a diagnosis. Trump, for all his mania, bigotry, and chaos, had given angry Americans something to vote for. To stop him, Democrats would need to match force with counter-force, polarization with mobilization. They would need to show as much anger, as much populism, as much wrecking ball energy as he did…Biden is running — and, for now, winning — by defying that diagnosis. He is executing a careful, quiet campaign focused less on thrilling his partisans than denying Trump the boogeyman he needs to reenergize his base. It’s a campaign that frustrates liberal activists and pundits because it repeatedly, routinely denies them the excitement and collisions that structure modern politics. It’s also, for that reason, a campaign that is frustrating Trump and Fox News, which is why they keep trying to run against Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar instead.”

Klein adds, “What’s striking is how well it appears to be working. As I write this, Biden is ahead by more than 9 points in the FiveThirtyEight national polling average. The Economist’s election forecasting model gives him a 92 percent likelihood of winning the Electoral College. He leads in polling averages of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, and North Carolina. He’s neck-and-neck with Trump in Texas. Texas! As the New York Times’s Nate Cohn notes, even if polls prove as off in 2020 as they did in 2016, these numbers still predict a large Biden victory…The key to Biden’s success is simple: He’s slicing into Trump’s coalition, pulling back the older, whiter voters Democrats lost in 2016. The Biden campaign’s insight is that mobilization is often the flip side of polarization: When party activists are sharply divided by ideology and demography, what excites your side will be the very thing that unnerves the other side. Studies of House elections show this dynamic in action: Ideologically extreme candidates perform worse than moderates because they drive up turnout on the other side.”

Klein says, further, “Biden’s theory of wavering Trump voters is the same as his theory of wavering Republican senators: He thinks they want to vote with him but need help getting over their political hang-ups about voting for a Democrat. And so he is trying to give them that help. He praises the old Republican Party, refuses to pick a side in American politics’ hottest fights. Biden has resisted calls to abolish private insurance, ban fracking, decriminalize immigration, and defund the police. It’s cost him enthusiasm on the left, but it has denied Trump the clear foil he needs. That’s left Trump confused, pathetically insisting Biden holds positions Biden doesn’t hold and getting fact-checked live on Fox…Biden is treating Trump voters not as a monolith but as a coalition — a coalition that can be broken.All this has given Biden the opportunity to run the campaign he’s most comfortable with, and most suited to run. A campaign that’s more about giving people who don’t agree with him on everything permission to vote for him, rather than a campaign about mobilizing his own base. It might not work in every year, against every opponent, but it’s working this year, against this one.”


Political Strategy Notes

Democrats now have a nominee to take away Republican Senator John Cornyn’s seat in November. As Cameron Peters reports in “Air Force veteran MJ Hegar wins the Texas Democratic Senate primary” at Vox. “Air Force veteran Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar will officially face Sen. John Cornyn in November after winning out against state Sen. Royce West in Texas’s Democratic primary runoff on Tuesday…Hegar secured the endorsement not just from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee but also from major national groups including EMILY’s List, Everytown for Gun Safety, and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She has long been the anointed candidate to take on Cornyn, and she was the top vote-getter in Texas’s Super Tuesday primary in March…On Tuesday, she again defeated West, a progressive fixture of Democratic politics in Texas. In the lead-up to the runoff, Hegar and her allies spent heavily to make sure they put the race away: According to the Texas Tribune, she, along with the DSCC and EMILY’s List, poured at least $2 million into ads in the Houston area over the last week of the race, outspending West 85 to 1…But Cornyn looks to be somewhat more popular in the state than his colleague in the Senate, never mind the president, and he’s running anywhere from 8 to 13 points ahead of Hegar in recent polling, so she’ll have her work cut out for her.”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains former Vice President Biden’s messaging strategy: “Yes, his program is more broadly progressive than Barack Obama’s. Biden would take on climate change more aggressively, use government more forcefully to jump-start a sagging economy, and go well beyond the Affordable Care Act in guaranteeing all Americans health coverage…But we are living in a very different time: The economy is in even greater turmoil than it was in 2009, and inequalities of all kinds are more glaring. And Biden is betting that the divisiveness of the Trump era and the widespread suffering from the novel coronavirus and its economic consequences have rekindled a national desire to think of ourselves as an “us” and a “we.”…If Trump wants to make the election about socialism vs. capitalism, Biden wants to make it a very American choice between community and a radical kind of individualism that leaves many people stranded. Biden’s model is not Karl Marx but Franklin D. Roosevelt…Biden seems to have decided that he wants not only to beat Trump but also to lay the groundwork for governing. He is trying to assemble an agenda acceptable to the various wings of his own party and to argue for it by transcending the stale and hackneyed dividing lines that drive Trump’s approach to politics.”

What are the strategic implications of the shake-up in Trump’s re-election campaign. At CNN Politics, Caroline Kelly explains: “Trump’s decision to name Stepien deputy campaign manager in May was viewed by many around the campaign as an effort by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, to ensure a successor loyal to him in the event Parscale would need to be pushed out…After a one-on-one meeting between Trump and Stepien on Tuesday, Kushner informed Parscale of the decision to demote him, according to a source familiar with the conversation.” Could it be that Brad Parscale’s data-driven approach to targeting unmotivated, but persuadable voters is now seen as unworkable for Trump’s rapidly-tanking campaign? If so, then it seems a good bet that Stepien’s ascendancy signals a stronger emphasis on trying to divide Biden’s white working-class supporters with increasingly desperate appeals to their fears about race and immigration.

“Polls consistently show that Trump’s supporters are more excited to vote for him than presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s supporters are to vote for him,” Michael Tesler writes at FiveThirtyEight. “For example, half of Trump supporters in a recent USA Today/Suffolk University poll said they were “very excited” about their candidate, compared to just 27 percent of Biden backers. Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale even described their enthusiasm advantage over Biden as “the most important factor in the campaign…But the significance of this “enthusiasm gap” is exaggerated. Enthusiastic votes count just as much as unenthusiastic ones, meaning an enthusiasm gap would only really matter in a close election. And right now, it isn’t a close election: Biden leads Trump in national polls by nearly 9 points. No enthusiasm advantage — no matter how big — could possibly make up for that kind of a gap.”

“To be sure,” Tesler adds, “that negative enthusiasm gap will almost certainly narrow as Trump ratchets up his attacks on Biden. But it’s unlikely Biden will engender the same level of hatred that Clinton did. Even though she’s spent four years out of the political limelight, Republicans are still more hostile to Clinton than Biden. A Fox News poll from last month found that 76 percent had a “strongly unfavorable” opinion of Clinton, compared to 64 percent of Republicans who held the same opinion of Biden…As The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer astutely put it, “The notion of a Biden presidency simply does not provoke the visceral rage that Clinton and Obama did — not in Trump, and not in his supporters.” So long as Biden’s campaign does not evoke such negativity, Trump will likely be the one on the short end of the 2020 enthusiasm gap.”

From “The Plot Against America: The GOP’s Plan to Suppress the Vote and Sabotage the Election: Blocking ballots, intimidating voters, spreading misinformation — undermining democracy is at the heart of Trump’s 2020 campaign” by Andy Kroll at Rolling Stone: “In recent months, a central theme of his re-election strategy has come into clear, unmistakable focus: Trump and his Republican enablers are putting voter suppression front and center — fear-mongering about voting by mail, escalating their Election Day poll watching and so-called ballot-security operations, and blocking funding to prepare the country for a pandemic-era election. “The president views vote-by-mail as a threat to his election,” a lawyer for the Trump campaign recently told 60 Minutes. Attorney General William Barr told Fox News that vote-by-mail “absolutely opens the floodgates to fraud.”

Kroll continues: “In February, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee announced that they would spend $10 million on voting-related lawsuits in 2020 — a figure that has since doubled to $20 million. The RNC has so far filed lawsuits in more than a dozen states, including the battlegrounds of Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida. These suits are a mix of offense and defense: Some attempt to block litigation brought by Democratic groups to expand mail-in voting in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Others seek to invalidate state-level policies by saying that expanding access to mail-in ballots invites fraud. But the uniting theme of the RNC’s suits, says Rick Hasen, a University of California, Irvine law professor and author of Election Meltdown, is simple: “Casting doubt on the legitimacy of the election. Raising spurious fraud claims.”

Further, Kroll adds, “The funders of the RNC’s 2020 legal war chest are a who’s who of plutocrats and industry titans for whom a $100,000 check to the president is pocket change. According to an analysis of election records by Rolling Stone, these funders include L.L. Bean heiress Linda Bean, private-equity magnate Stephen Schwarzman, Johnson & Johnson heir Ambassador Woody Johnson, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), the Ricketts family that founded TD Ameritrade, coal barons Joe Craft and Robert Murray, billionaire financiers John Paulson and John W. Childs, financial executive Charles Schwab, Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan, and Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter. “It’s no surprise to see that the list of wealthy people bankrolling the RNC’s attack on voting rights includes some of the biggest benefactors of the Trump administration’s economic policy,” says Morris Pearl, chair of Patriotic Millionaires. “They don’t want to protect our elections — they want to protect their positions of privilege.”

Kroll notes a “a 1982 consent decree between the Democratic and Republican parties. Even though the RNC refused to admit wrong-doing in New Jersey, the group agreed to stop harassing and intimidating voters of color, including by deputizing off-duty law-enforcement officers and equipping those officers with guns or badges. Over the next three decades, Democrats marshaled enough evidence of ongoing Republican voter suppression to maintain the consent decree until 2018, when a federal judge lifted the order…The 2020 presidential election will be the first in nearly 40 years when the RNC isn’t bound by the terms of the 1982 decree. Clark, the Trump campaign lawyer, told the group of Republicans at the private meeting last November that the end of the consent decree was “a huge, huge, huge, huge deal,” freeing the RNC to directly coordinate with campaigns and political committees on so-called Election Day operations. The RNC is sending millions of dollars to state Republican parties to vastly expand these measures, which include recruiting 50,000 poll observers to deploy in key precincts. Josh Helton, a lawyer who has advised the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has described Philadelphia, where black people make up 41 percent of the population, as “probably the epicenter for voter fraud in this country” and a likely target for the GOP’s 2020 poll-watching efforts.”


Political Strategy Notes

“The number one issue to voters this year is the pandemic,” Bill Schneider writes in “There’s a Big Blue Wave Coming” at The Hill. “Democratic pollster Geoff Garin told the Washington Post, “Trump is increasingly defined in voters’ minds by his failing response to the coronavirus crisis, and virtually every action and position he’s taken have been wildly out of sync with where the public is at on what should be done.” The president has said he thinks the virus will “just disappear.” He has consistently downplayed the threat posed by the coronavirus and is urging Americans to learn to live with it. That means learning to live with more than 3 million Americans infected and over 134,000 dead — more than twice as many as the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam war…Biden’s response? “Make no mistake. We are still in a deep, deep jobs hole because Donald Trump has so badly bungled the response to the coronavirus and now has basically given up responding at all.”

Texas is a swing state in 2020, new polls reveal,” according to poll analyst Harry Enten, writing at CNN Politics: “New CBS News/YouGov polls show President Donald Trump is in trouble in three states he won in 2016. He’s tied with former Vice President Joe Biden in Arizona (46% to 46%), a state he won by four points in 2016. Trump’s down 48% to 42% in Florida, a state he took by a point in 2016…But it’s the third state, Texas, where the eye popping result comes from. It’s Trump 46% to Biden’s 45%, a result well within any margin of error…The 2020 campaign could be the first time Democrats captured the Lone Star State in a presidential election since 1976…The CBS News/YouGov poll is not an outlier over the last month. There have been eight polls released publicly since the beginning of June. The result is that Biden and Trump are basically tied, with Biden up by a mere 0.3 points in Texas…Importantly, and unlike in other states, the polls in Texas have not overestimated Democrats over the last few cycles. If anything Democrats actually slightly outperformed their final polls in the 2016 presidential race and 2018 Senate races.”

At The Cook Political Report, Amy Walter explains why Trump’s “cancel culture” branding strategy is unlikely to have much effect in the 2020 elections: “In 2016, with the economy stable and life in a relatively “normal” place, it was easy to distract and engage voters with this stuff. Today, however, when 87 percent of Americans (according to a recent Pew poll) say they are disappointed in the direction of the country, it’s hard to scare them into thinking that things will worsen if they vote for former Vice President Joe Biden in the fall. And, Biden isn’t making himself an easy target either. He was quick to denounce the ‘defund police’ movement. He also came out in defense of preserving and protecting national monuments dedicated to founding leaders like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.”

Perry Bacon, Jr. argues at FiveThirty Eight that “it isn’t easy or necessarily guaranteed that the Republicans will overwhelmingly win the white vote overall or the white non-college vote specifically — even in an election that’s centered on race. The 2017-2018 period was full of racialized political debate, most notably on immigration policy, but the exit polls suggest Democrats lost white voters without a college degree by 24 percentage points in 2018, compared to 37 points in 2016. So far in 2020, polls show Biden losing white voters without a degree by a margin closer to 20 points…Meanwhile, Biden might carry white voters with a college degree by a large margin, in part because those voters have been turned off by Trump’s approach to racial issues. Indeed, white voters with a college degree or postgraduate education have been trending Democratic for years, and the GOP approach to race and ethnicity is likely a factor.”

Writing at The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein shares some revealing observations about the changes that will charactrize the 2020 electorate, including, “From the 2016 GOP primaries forward, white voters without a college education have provided Trump’s largest group of loyalists. In the 1968 presidential election, that group comprised nearly 80 percent of all voters, according to post-election surveys by both the Census Bureau and the University of Michigan’s American National Election Studies. White Americans holding at least a four-year college degree represented about 15 percent of voters, with nonwhite Americans, almost all of them Black, comprising the remainder, at just under 10 percent. (The Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz analyzed the ANES data for me.)..That electorate is unrecognizable now. The nonpartisan States of Change project has forecast that non-college-educated white Americans will likely constitute 42 percent of voters in November, slightly more than half their share in 1968. States of Change anticipates that both college-educated white voters and voters of color will represent about 30 percent of voters in 2020. For the former group, that’s about twice their share in 1968; for the latter, that’s somewhere between a three- and fourfold increase.”

From Robert Reich’s share-worthy, blistering indictment, “Trump and McConnell are the twin tribunes of America’s ruin – vote them out: Under leaders as callous as these, the ravages of Covid-19, economic disaster and systemic racism can only get worse” by Robert Reich at The Guardian: “Donald Trump has not only refused to contain Covid-19 but is actively pushing Americans into harm’s way, demanding the nation “reopen” while cases and deaths continue to rise. Meanwhile, he’s siphoning federal money intended to dampen the economic crisis into the pockets of his cronies and family. And he is deliberately stoking racial tensions to energize his “base” for the upcoming election…As if this weren’t enough, Trump continues to attack the rule of law, on which a democracy depends in order to deal with these and all other challenges…But he could not accomplish these abhorrent feats alone. Senate Republicans are either cheering him on or maintaining a shameful silence. Trump’s biggest enabler is the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.”

Reich continues, “McConnell’s take on Trump’s multiple attacks on the rule of law, including Friday’s commutation of former Trump campaign aide Roger Stone’s prison sentence? Utter silence…But McConnell has been a vocal opponent of the Heroes Act – passed by the House in early May to help Americans survive the pandemic and fortify the upcoming election – calling it a “liberal wishlist”. In fact, it’s a necessary list…McConnell and his fellow Senate Republicans don’t want to extend the bill’s extra-$600-a-week unemployment benefits, enacted in March but due to expire on 31 July. They argue the benefits are higher than what low-income workers are likely to earn on the job, so the money is a disincentive to work…Baloney. Few jobs are available to low-income workers, and most are in so-called “essential” work rife with Covid-19. Besides, the US economy can’t be revived unless people have extra money in their pockets to buy goods and services. Even before the pandemic, nearly 80% of Americans lived paycheck to paycheck. Now many are desperate, as revealed by lengthening food lines and growing delinquencies in rent payments.”

Reich, author of The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, notes further, “Yet McConnell and his ilk are happy to give away trillions of dollars in bailouts to Wall Street bankers and corporate executives, on the dubious premise that the rich will work harder if they receive more money while people of modest means work harder if they receive less. In reality, the rich contribute more to Republican campaigns when they get bailed out…McConnell and Senate Republicans quietly inserted into the last Covid relief bill a $170bn windfall to Jared Kushner and other real estate moguls. Another $454bn went to backing up a Federal Reserve program that benefits big business by buying up debt…And although that bill was also intended to help small businesses, lobbyists connected to Trump – including current donors and fundraisers for his re-election – helped their clients rake in more than $10bn, while an estimated 90% of small businesses owned by people of color and women got nothing…The inept and overwhelmingly corrupt reign of Trump and McConnell will come to an end next January if enough Americans vote this November.”

In his column on “The Democrats’ suburban evangelists,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes, “No one will ever accuse Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey, a freshman electedin the 2018 Democratic wave, of complacency. “The last time a Democrat has won reelection in my district,” he said cheerfully, “was before the Civil War.”…But a lot hangs on the ability of Democrats such as Kim to survive and prosper in places where voters would once have shuddered at the thought of sending anyone but a Republican to Washington…Kim spoke of H.R. 1, the political reform package that many Democrats will highlight this fall. “When it comes to campaign finance reform and fighting corruption in Washington and fighting corporate special interests in Washington,” Kim said, “the vast majority of people in my district, whether Republicans or Democrats or unaffiliated voters, that is a top priority for them.” It could prove to be a sleeper issue…Building a new majority requires converting voters who were once part of the old one. No one is more aware of this than the Democrats’ suburban evangelists.”


Political Strategy Notes

In her column, “New July 2020 Electoral College Ratings,” Amy Walter notes at The Cook Political Report, “This election is looking more like a Democratic tsunami than simply a Blue wave. President Trump, mired in some of the lowest job approval ratings of his presidency, is trailing Biden by significant margins in key battleground states like Pennsylvania (8 points), Michigan (9 points), and Wisconsin (9 points). He’s even running behind Biden in his firewall states of Florida and North Carolina…We’ve made changes to our Electoral College ratings to reflect this reality…Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska’s 2nd district move from Toss Up to Lean Democrat…Maine, once in Lean Democrat, moves to the safer Likely Democratic category…Georgia has joined Arizona, North Carolina and Florida in the Toss Up column, although, at this point, Biden would be slightly favored to win at least Arizona and Florida…Maine’s 2nd district has moved from Likely Republican to a more competitive Lean Republican…These moves alone push Biden over the 270 electoral vote threshold (to 279).”

“One of the biggest unknowns, however,” Walter continues, “is voting itself. As we’ve seen this spring and early summer, most states are not prepared for an onslaught of absentee ballots. And confusion about how/where to vote could impact turnout. Moreover, if voters start to sense that the race for president is a blow-out, will they be more willing to split their tickets to ensure a ‘check and balance’ in Washington next fall? At least one Republican I spoke with, however, was wary of a check and balance working this year, telling me that “people are looking for a restart and a reset.” That includes down-ballot candidates as well as the president.”

Also at The Cook Political Report, Charlie Cook discusses the roles of key demographic groups in the election and writes, “It’s among white voters that things get more interesting. The first thing to note is that their overall share of the electorate is shrinking at a fairly rapid rate, dropping about 2 percentage points every four years, from 74 percent in 2008 to 72 percent in 2012 and 70 percent in the last election—something that Republicans should keep in mind…Among those four quadrants of white voters, split by gender and level of educational attainment, Trump won the support of white men with less than a four-year college degree (17 percent of the 2016 electorate) by a 49-point margin (72 to 23 percent) in 2016. He has led Biden by anywhere from 25 to 44 points in polling over the past two months. This is Trump’s base; only among self-described Republicans, conservatives, and evangelicals does he do better.”

“The next-best group for Trump,” Cook adds “is white women with less than a four-year degree. They also made up 17 percent of the 2016 electorate, siding with the Republicans by a 28-point margin (62 to 34 percent). This group has strayed from the Trump camp since 2016; most recent polling has him ahead by somewhere between 5 and 15 points…White men with college degrees come next, again with 17 percent of the 2016 vote. Then, they voted for Trump over Clinton by 15 points (54 to 39 percent). But public polling in the current race has been all over the map. The early June PBS/NPR/Marist College poll had Biden up by 2 points (47 to 45 percent), the May and June Fox News polls had Trump up by 8 (51 to 43 percent) and 10 percent (50 to 40 percent). A late June PBS/NPR/Marist poll as well as March and May ABC News/Washington Post polls had Trump up by 12 points and 4 points, respectively.”

Further, Cook notes, “White women with college degrees give Trump the least support of the four white quadrants. They made up 20 percent of the electorate in the last presidential election, going for Clinton by a 6-point margin. This year, they’ve been siding with Biden by 20- and 30-point margins…The Trump forces will obviously put considerable resources into getting out the vote of white men without college degrees; the Biden campaign will put the same kind of resources into African Americans, Latinos and white women with college degrees. The battlefield will be the persuadable college-educated men and women without degrees.”

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall probes the roots of political polarization in 2020, and shares observations from several studies, including: “Jaime Settle, a political scientist at the College of William and Mary, has also explored the ambiguities of heritability of psychological traits with political consequences. “While there is a consistent pattern that ideology is heritable, the direction of partisanship typically has not been found to be heritable,” she wrote in an email. However, she continued, “My expectation is that the sorting in American politics that occurred in the post-Civil Rights Era has changed that. Thus, partisanship today might show up to be heritable, but it would be a statistical artifact of the consequence of the alignment of ideology and partisanship…Our ideological labels in America have become identities as much as statements about our political beliefs. In the parlance of political scientists, people have much stronger symbolic ideologies than operational ideologies. The intractability of polarization is because of the alignment of many of our social identities, an argument that Lily Mason [author of Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identitymakes, and the reason “culture war” issues resonate so much is that they are much more threatening to people’s layered identities.””

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. provides an insightful assessment of the recent Supreme Court ruling “that allows even publicly traded corporations — not just family-owned companies — to deny their female employees this coverage if they have religious objections.” Dionne argues: “Given that more than two-thirds of Americans believe, in principle at least, that private health insurance plans should cover contraception, it’s strange that we can’t seem to settle the matter. You would think a functioning democracy could work this issue out in a reasonable way that respected the rights of women as well as the rights of those with religious objections to contraception…in dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, asked exactly the right question: “May the Government jettison an arrangement that promotes women workers’ well-being while accommodating employers’ religious tenets and, instead, defer entirely to employers’ religious beliefs, although that course harms women who do not share those beliefs?”…ultimately, it will be for the voters to decide whether we want leadership that seeks reasonable and durable settlements of divisive cultural questions. Doing so will help us move on to such pressing concerns as getting everyone health coverage in the first place.”

“Over the last few decades, Georgia has gone from a swing state to reliably GOP. But it’s now looking like a genuinely competitive state again,” J. Miles Coleman and Nials Francis write in “States of Play: Georgia – Once-dominant Democrats need formerly Republican suburbs to come through for them in 2020” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball. “Democrats have made major inroads in both urban Atlanta and its suburbs, but their gains have been somewhat blunted by the sharp Republican trend in other parts of the state…In the state’s regular Senate election this year, we’re downgrading Sen. David Perdue’s chances. We now have both Georgia’s seats rated as Leans Republican…Looking to November, Georgia seems poised to receive attention from both sides, up and down the ballot. While it does seem to be shifting more into the purple state category, if Biden carries the state, he would likely already be over 270 electoral votes. With one, or both, of its Senate races likely heading to a runoff, political junkies could have Georgia on their minds even after the November general elections. Finally, Georgia’s two competitive House seats speak to the rapid pace of changes that parts of the state have seen. In 2016, the Crystal Ball rated both GA-6 and GA-7 as Safe Republican. After nearly a full term of the Trump presidency, Democrats are favored to hold the former and have at least an even money chance to flip the latter.”

From “Biden-Sanders taskforces unveil proposals for party unity” at msn.com: “US presidential hopeful Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled proposals crafted with supporters of his progressive ex-rival Bernie Sanders as the Democratic Party prepares to release its platform at next month’s national convention…The recommendations include more ambitious environmental timelines than those in Biden’s initial climate proposal, such as eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035…They also include criminal justice reforms that take on added significance in the wake of the May killing of African-American man George Floyd by Minneapolis police…The proposals home in on the coronavirus pandemic and aim to end the disadvantage that blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and women “have suffered disproportionately due to the COVID-19 pandemic and President Trump’s recession,” and have received less than their fair share of economic relief…The task forces on climate change, health care, the economy, immigration, education and criminal justice reform came together in May to forge a roadmap for defeating Trump, and to engage voters who supported more progressive candidates in the primary race including Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren…”Though the end result is not what I or my supporters would have written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families,” Sanders said in a statement.”


Political Strategy Notes

In his post, “Republican internal polling signals a Democratic rout” at CNN Politics, Harry Enten shares this insight: “Whenever I hear an operative complain about public polling, I have just one thing to say: Put up or shut up. Release your own numbers that show the race in a different place than the public polling, or let the public polling stand. This is especially true in House races, where public polling is limited and there’s a real chance to shape the conventional wisdom…Perhaps, it’s not surprising then that when one party puts out a lot more internal polls than normal, it is good for their side. Parties tend to release good polling when they have it. Since 2004, there has been a near perfect correlation (+0.96 on a scale from -1 to +1) between the share of partisan polls released by the Democrats and the November results…Democratic and liberal aligned groups have put out 17 House polls taken in April or later. Republican aligned groups have put out 0. That’s a very bad ratio for Republicans.”

Arlette Saenz and Sarah Mucha report “Biden campaign readying hundreds of lawyers in expansive vote protection effort” at CNN Politics. ” Joe Biden‘s campaign is assembling hundreds of lawyers nationwide to monitor potential voting issues as part of its extensive voter protection efforts heading into the general election…Speaking at a virtual fundraiser Wednesday, the presumptive Democratic nominee said his team has organized 600 lawyers and others across the country to “try to figure out why the chicanery is likely to take place.” He also said they have recruited 10,000 people as volunteers…”Too often the norm in a campaign is that voter protection staff come on the ground in September or even sometimes in October unfortunately, and they’re sort of on-hand to triage issues that come up, on Election Day or leading up to it,” said David Bergstein, the director of battleground state communications for the DNC. “That model is not the best one to be utilizing particularly this cycle.”

At Vox, Ian Millhiser explains why progressives shouldn’t entertain the delusion that Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are not so bad, after all. Commenting on two new high court rulings, Millhiser writes, “In recent weeks, the Court has handed down a handful of left-leaning decisions — including a narrow decision temporarily preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)  program and an even narrower decision striking down a Louisiana anti-abortion law…But on the most important question in a democracy — whether citizens are empowered to choose their own leaders — this Supreme Court remains unsympathetic to parties seeking to protect the right to vote, despite the greatest public health crisis in more than a century.” All evidence indicates that Justice Roberts has not changed much at all on voting rights since the days when he was the Reagan Administration’s point man for voter suppression. Nor can voting rights advocates expect any support from Gorsuch or Kavanaugh.

In Jake Braun’s “A Perfect Storm of Vulnerabilities Could Determine the 2020 Election,” in The Boston Review, he observes “As we have seen all year, beginning with the days-long debacle of tallying delegates for the Iowa Caucus, Georgia is not the exception but rather a particularly egregious instance of the rule for 2020 election catastrophes. It is imperative we take action now to protect the security and integrity of our elections. Over the last few years four key weaknesses have emerged in our election ecosystem: flawed infrastructure that invariably breaks, organically generated conspiracies and public outcry, vulnerability to low-cost, unattributable system hacks, and susceptibility to trolls and bots. Each of these weaknesses is problematic enough on its own, but taken together they compound the effect of one another to generate a seemingly insurmountable challenge. To ensure the integrity of our elections, we must understand the vulnerabilities as a whole rather than confront them in isolation…Enhancing the transparency of our election infrastructure and security measures with a publicly accessible database would dramatically enhance the security of our elections. Further, talking openly to the public about the broad threat landscape will harden their cognitive security. Both these transparency measures engender trust in our elections and give stakeholders the tools needed to enhance the security of our elections. While these measures would not fully mitigate the expanded threat landscape we face, it would dramatically enhance transparency of election administration—one positive step in what will surely be a decades-long struggle to secure our elections.”

“As for deliverables to the electorate,’ E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in “A vicious culture war is all Trump has left,” his Washington Post column, “Biden has it all over Trump. The former vice president’s website is chockablock with popular and specific proposals on matters ranging from access to health care and higher education to infrastructure, climate change and higher wages. What is Trump offering? When Fox News’s Sean Hannity recently askedTrump what he wanted to do in a second term, the president offered 138-words of rambling emptiness adding up to nothing. Lacking even a few ideas scribbled on a “sheet of notepaper,” he can only conjure terrorizing national nightmares…It’s true that Trump’s Independence weekend escapades mean we face months of being led by someone so desperate to avoid defeat that he will warp our history, shatter what little unity we have left, and leave it to others to clear the wreckage. But there is hope here, too: Trump is acting like a frightened man who realizes that if his opponents keep their heads and avoid rising to his bait, his days are numbered.”

Democratic campaigns looking for a succinct indictment of Trump/Republican health care policy should check out Harold Meyerson’s article, “Still Exceptional After All These Years” at The American Prospect. As Meyerson writes, “the share of our economy devoted to health care—to pharmaceutical companies, the insurance industry, hospital chains, and so on—far exceeds that of any other nation…When a nation this rich and powerful is also this vulnerable and weak, the causes of its dysfunctions must run very deep. The most proximate cause, of course, is a national government that, since Donald Trump took power, has arrayed its power against fictitious threats it has manufactured itself, like dangerous immigrants or fraudulent voters. This makes it all the easier for conservatives to stoke fear and anger within their political base. At the same time, the Trump administration has ignored the very real threats to its citizens posed by mutating diseases and a worsening climate—not just ignored them, but consistently downplayed them, and diminished our capacity to counter them by defunding public-health agencies and driving scientists from the government, lest their empiricism dispel the imagined enemies and fake cures that Republicans parade before us…while we tally just that 4 percent of earthlings, we constitute a mind-boggling 25 percent of the earthlings who’ve come down with COVID-19 and a further 25 percent of those who’ve died from it.”

At Mother Jones, Kara Voght notes that “The Coronavirus is Knocking Progressive Priorities Off the Ballot: Progressives have increasingly turned to ballot initiatives in red states. COVID-19 has screwed that all up,”  and observes, “Across the country, coronavirus and the efforts to contain it have made it impossible to meet the requirements for putting measures on the ballot. The pandemic will stymie a cycle’s worth of progressive policy that, in some instances, would have directly addressed the medical and financial hardships it has worsened…Twenty-seven US states and territories allow for ballot measures, and in order for a proposed measure to make it onto the ballot, organizers need to collect some minimum number of handwritten signatures…In addition to Idaho’s minimum wage campaign, activists in Arizona suspended their signature-gathering for a measure that would have stopped surprise medical billing and increased health care worker pay. In Oregon, a petition for safe gun storage has stopped, as well, as has a push to legalize marijuana in Missouri. Most of these efforts can reboot for the 2022 cycle, but some cannot: A Oklahoma campaign to establish an independent redistricting committee –an effort to combat gerrymandering—will have lost its window of opportunity by then.”

As reported by Steven Shepard, Politico’s Election Forecast, “based on continual interviews with strategists and operatives, polling and other data streams and the electoral and demographic trends driving the 2020 campaign,” finds that “President Donald Trump is now an underdog to win a second term, and Republicans’ Senate majority is in serious danger of being swept out with him, according to the latest edition of POLITICO’s Election Forecast…A series of crises over the past three months has seen the political environment deteriorate markedly for Trump and his party. The percentage of voters who think the country is headed in the wrong direction is hitting new highs — a record 75 percent in the latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll — and Trump’s approval rating is settling near his all-time lows….Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s lead over Trump is swelling to roughly 10 points nationally — and for the first time, our forecast classifies Biden as the clear favorite in the race…But the race for Senate control is now close to a coin flip. Democrats now have discernible leads in Arizona and Colorado. Retired astronaut Mark Kelly has consistently outpolled appointed Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona’s special election.”


Political Strategy Notes

At Politico, Christopher Cadelago and Natasha Korecki comment on Biden’s media and public appearance strategy: “…After laying out his own plan to slow the coronavirus, the presumptive Democratic nominee made what now amounts to news in this bizarre election: He opened the floor to questions from reporters, waving off aides when they tried to cut him off and marveling at how strange this has all become…The focus on his latest outing reflects the strange reality of a campaign in which he’s grown his support in polls by stepping aside….“They’ve allowed Trump to just implode,” said Pete Giangreco, a Democratic strategist. And by releasing a renewed coronavirus plan on Tuesday, Biden was able to keep the heat on Trump as the president struggles to contain a resurgence of the virus across the country, including in states key to his reelection hopes….“There’s the old adage, ‘when your opponent’s drowning, throw him an anvil,'”…Biden only recently began attending events outside of his Delaware home. His fundraisers and town hall-style events are held virtually. While Biden hadn’t held a press briefing in months, he has sat for national TV interviews. He’s also routinely taken part in one-on-one interviews with local news outlets in battleground states. Biden boasted on Tuesday that his efforts had reached 200 million people.” What I like about Biden’s strategy is that less wear and tear from travel and public events keeps him well-rested for the home stretch. Let Trump wear himself out on the trail at poorly-attended events.

It’s fun watching Republicans hem, haw and squirm about their earlier dismissive comments and inadequate policies with respect to the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic. This week Dems are having a grand time witnessing the Great GOP Walk-back, especially by Trump, regarding their earlier coronavirus statements, and Dems have surely amassed a huge stockpile of video clips of Trump’s ridiculous comments about the virus back in March. One interesting question is, how much collateral damage will Trump’s comments do down-ballot — not that Republican Governors, paticularly in Florida, Georgia and Texas, don’t have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do about their own lame policies regarding the pandemic. The hope is that Democratic operatives in those states have their act enough together to produce ads that hold the GOP accountable.

As Stephen Collinson notes further in his article, “Trump’s anti-mask crusade is coming back to bite him” at CNN Politics, “Some Republicans have been trying to walk back earlier squeamishness about a step that runs counter to conservative talk show dogma by finding ways to make mask wearing more politically palatable. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican who’s a strong Trump ally, suggested that with Independence Day approaching, Americans should show their patriotism with red, white and blue face coverings. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, has been resplendent in a plaid mask that recalls the red and black shirt he wore when he hiked across his state and was elected governor decades ago.”…Trump’s apparent shift on mask wearing probably does not signal a corresponding change in his denial about the worsening crisis and refusal to provide strong presidential leadership…In the same Fox Business interview, he claimed that “we did it all right” on coronavirus, a pandemic that he initially ignored, then mismanaged and politicized, and finally went back to ignoring even with more than 127,000 Americans now dead…”We did a great job. We’re credited with doing a great job,” he said, before returning his typical fantasy-based predictions about the virus.”

In his New York Times column, “Trump Wants a Backlash. Can He Whip One Into Shape?,” Thomas B. Edsall writes, “Donald Trump is already running ads online and on TV attempting to capitalize on these trends. One spot shows looters and burning buildings while the words “Joe Biden fails to stand up to the radical left” appear on the screen. Another Trump ad that ran on Facebookwarned: “Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups are running through our streets and causing absolute mayhem…So far, Trump’s attempt to focus public attention on the looting, burning and sometimes indiscriminate toppling of statues has been outdone by the emergence of an ever longer list of African-American victims of police brutality, by new videos of police violence, much of it collected by T. Greg Doucette, a lawyer in North Carolina, and by the filing of murder charges on June 17 against an Atlanta police officer in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks…”

Edsall continues, “Traditionally, it has been the Democratic Party that was most vulnerable to fracture over race, racism, crime and family dysfunction. But this year, as my Times colleague Adam Nagourney pointed out on June 29 in “Trump’s Self-Inflicted Wound: Losing Swing Voters As He Plays to His Base,” the susceptibility to division is also a Republican problem: “Mr. Trump’s focus on his base at the expense of swing voters,” Nagourney wrote, “is almost certainly not enough to win him a second term.”…The key group, Nagourney continued, is the nine percent of the electorate identified in the Times/Siena poll as undecided, but these voters may be out of reach: They, like much of the country, hold unfavorable views of Mr. Trump’s job performance, and particularly his response to the pandemic and to the demonstrations that followed the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police...Across the country, significant support has emerged for broad efforts to combat police brutality and racism, but that support is not monolithic. The current tilt in favor of the demonstrators is likely to face concerted, ugly pushback from Trump and his minions — and there are four long months to go before the election.”

At CNN Politics, Chandelis Duster reports that “Ex-George W. Bush officials launch new group supporting Joe Biden,” and writes “A group of former George W. Bush administration and campaign officials has launched a new super PAC to mobilize disaffected Republican voters for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden…The group, launched Wednesday under the name “43 Alumni for Biden,” “seeks to unite and mobilize a community of historically Republican voters who are dismayed and disappointed by the damage done to our nation by Donald Trump‘s presidency,” according to a release. The formation of the group is the latest example of efforts being made by anti-Trump Republicans to defeat the President in November…Karen Kirksey, the director of the committee and who worked on the Bush 2000 election campaign and in the Labor and Agriculture Departments, said the endorsement of Biden is “not necessarily in full support of his political agenda but rather in full agreement with the urgent need to restore the soul of this nation.”

“The underappreciated story in Congress is that it’s Democrats who want to do the most to limit the economic damage caused by covid-19, while McConnell’s Republican Party slow-walks action,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his Washington Post column. “This reality should inform negotiations on the new round of relief that the country requires — and that those most battered by the economic downturn desperately need. The paradox is that if Democrats play hardball on behalf of a larger package and more assistance to the most vulnerable, as they must, they will be making Trump’s reelection a little bit easier…They should thus insist that the $3 trillion relief bill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has already pushed through set the terms of the discussion. McConnell can say he’ll ignore the House bill, but guess what? The man who most needs Congress to act is the Republican in the Oval Office. If McConnell wants to foil a genuinely bipartisan agreement, the failure will be on him, his party and his president…McConnell and his friends will no doubt cry hypocritical tears about deficits they never worry about when they’re handing tax breaks to the wealthy. But, yes, let’s think about the long term: If Congress doesn’t act boldly now, with an amount of money closer to the level the House has proposed, the resulting damage to the economy and to our most vulnerable citizens will linger for many years…We know the only thing Trump cares about is reelection. He may soon realize that his best interests lie in calling McConnell and telling him: If Pelosi and Schumer are willing to help me, give them what they want.”

Kyle Kondik reports at Sabato’s Crystal Ball that Democratic candidates are doing well in the battle for the burbs. “Joe Biden’s currently strong lead in the presidential race is being felt in the suburbs, which if it lasts could imperil Republicans in some of their formerly dark red turf…Texas merits special attention, where as many as 10 Republican-held House seats could become vulnerable if Trump were to lose the state…We have 11 House rating changes, 10 of which benefit Democrats…Overall, our ratings now show 227 House seats at least leaning to the Democrats, 194 at least leaning to the Republicans, and 14 Toss-ups. Splitting the Toss-ups down the middle would mean a 234-201 House, a one-seat GOP improvement on 2018…That said, as we scan the Leans Republican and Leans Democratic columns, there may be more GOP seats than Democratic ones that are closer to drifting into the Toss-up column. Second-quarter fundraising reports, which will be trickling out over the next couple of weeks, may provide some additional clues as to the state of these competitive races. All in all, the Democrats’ grip on the House majority remains strong.”

Also at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, in a graphic-rich post, Rhodes Cook shares some notes about the presidential race on the all-important, ‘keystone state,’ Pennsylvania: “The Philadelphia suburbs, once a Republican stronghold, now have a Democratic registration advantage in all four counties, with Chester County flipping to the Democrats in May. It is reportedly the first time there have been more Democrats than Republicans in the county since the Civil War…In 2016, Donald Trump inspired higher Republican turnout in Pennsylvania, while Hillary Clinton couldn’t offset her losses in the non-metro parts of the state…Voter registration trends in Pennsylvania are mirroring the 2016 picture — all of the counties in Philadelphia’s suburban collar are Democratic by registration while Republicans have flipped some working class counties…With the third party vote projected to be down from 2020, former Gov. Bill Weld’s (R-MA) relative strength as a Republican protest presidential candidate in this month’s Pennsylvania Republican primary may be a warning sign for Trump…Joe Biden, who frequently talks up his working class Scranton background, gives Democrats a good chance to move the state back into the blue column, but it’ll hardly be an automatic shift.”


Political Strategy Notes

In their article, “No excuse not to fix broken Ga. election system by Nov. 3,” Alan Abramowitz and Jonathan Krasno write “There are lots of ways to describe Georgia’s primary election, but no one would argue that it was anything less than an enormous embarrassment for the state. Some voters, particularly Black voters, were forced to wait for hours to cast their ballots while others breezed through without any trouble…This is not the way democratic elections are supposed to work. But things like this keep happening here, and no one should have any confidence that they are going to stop anytime soon since the state government now claims it is not responsible for fixing them. The question is whether Georgia’s business community is willing to tolerate being associated with what looks at best like sheer incompetence or at worst deliberate racism…We are talking about the tourist industry that draws millions of visitors to attractions like Savannah’s historic district and the Atlanta Aquarium…We are talking about leading brands headquartered in Georgia like Coca-Cola, Home Depot and UPS. All of these, plus plenty of smaller companies, have long told potential employees and customers of the advantages of their state: warm weather, low taxes, cosmopolitan Atlanta, the New South, etc…Failed elections tinged with racism do not fit with that picture…For many business leaders, that alone will offend. For all of them, there ought to be the uncertainty whether connection with Georgia will affect their bottom line…Just ask businesses in North Carolina. Its “bathroom bill” launched a boycott movement that cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in conventions…An even better example comes from Indiana, where then-Gov. Mike Pence signed a “religious freedom” bill that critics charged gave businesses and organizations the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people. While a few businesses were overjoyed with the law, the vast majority were appalled because they felt it cast their state in a poor light…They fought back. Angie’s List, headquartered in Indianapolis, canceled an expansion of its offices that would have brought an additional 1,000 jobs to the state. Salesforce suspended all activity in the state. The NCAA announced its intention to reevaluate its business there…Etc. Within months, the Legislature passed an additional law adding LGBTQ protections.”

It’s a month old, but, according to “Public Opinion on Single-Payer, National Health Plans, and Expanding Access to Medicare Coverage” by the Kaier Family Foundation, “A hallmark of Senator Sanders’ primary campaign for President in 2016 was a national “Medicare-for-all” plan and since then, a slight majority of Americans say they favor such a plan (Figure 4). Overall, large shares of Democrats and independents favor a national Medicare-for-all plan while most Republicans oppose (Figure 5). Yet, how politicians discuss different proposals does affect public support (Figure 6 and Figure 7). In addition, when asked why they support or oppose a national health plan, the public echoes the dominant messages in the current political climate (Figure 8). A common theme among supporters, regardless of how we ask the question, is the desire for universal coverage (Figure 9).” However, “KFF polling found that when such a plan is described in terms of the trade-offs (higher taxes but lower out-of-pocket costs), the public is almost equally split in their support (Figure 11).  KFF polling also shows many people falsely assume they would be able to keep their current health insurance under a single-payer plan, suggesting another potential area for decreased support especially since most supporters (67 percent) of such a proposal think they would be able to keep their current health insurance coverage (Figure 12).”

Further, The Kaiser Family Foundation notes, “KFF polling finds more Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents would prefer voting for a candidate who wants to build on the ACA in order to expand coverage and reduce costs rather than replace the ACA with a national Medicare-for-all plan (Figure 12). Additionally, KFF polling has found broader public support for more incremental changes to expand the public health insurance program in this country including proposals that expand the role of public programs like Medicare and Medicaid (Figure 13). And while partisans are divided on a Medicare-for-all national health plan, there is robust support among Democrats, and even support among over four in ten Republicans, for a government-run health plan, sometimes called a public option (Figure 14). Notably, the public does not perceive major differences in how a public option or a Medicare-for-all plan would impact taxes and personal health care costs. However, there are some differences in perceptions of how the proposals would impact those with private health insurance coverage (Figure 15). KFF polling in May 2020 finds about half of Americans support both a Medicare-for-all plan and a public option (Figure 16). So while the general idea of a national health plan (whether accomplished through an expansion of Medicare or some other way) may enjoy fairly broad support in the abstract, it remains unclear how this issue will play out in the 2020 election and beyond.”

A new anti-Trump ad from The Lincoln Project:

From”Why you shouldn’t believe Trump missed a guy chanting ‘white power’ in the video he shared” by Chris Cillizza at CNN Politics: “Why shouldn’t you believe the idea that Trump simply missed a guy chanting “white power” in the first few seconds of a video that he shared with his 82.5 million supporters on Twitter? Because, well, history — both recent and not-so-recent…From a housing discrimination lawsuit in the 1970s to his comments about the “Central Park 5”to his assertion that “both sides” were to blame for white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 — and dozens of smaller moments in between — Trump has again and again showed he simply does not get it when it comes to America’s ongoing racial problems. Or, seen through another lens, that he gets it all too well…And, of late, with his political fortunes flagging badly, Trump has leaned more and more heavily into barely-coded appeals to racist sentiment in the country…In fact, the ways in which he has worked to weaponize race and exploit racial divisions for his own personal political gain suggests that all Trump did on Sunday morning was say out loud what he has been saying slightly more quietly and subtly for years…”‘White power’ isn’t a dog whistle,” tweeted Soraya Nadia McDonald, the culture critic at The Undefeated. “It’s an air horn.”

Harry Enten writes, also at CNN Politics: “Trump’s average net approval rating during his presidency has been the worst of any president in the polling era…He’s averaged just a 42.5% approval rating among voters for his entire presidency. Trump’s disapproval rating during that same span has been about 53%, which makes for a net approval rating of -10.5 points…There’s very little chance Trump’s going to win reelection if his net approval rating is in the negative double-digits. We know that in basically every poll this year that Trump’s winning about 90% or more of those who approve of his job performance, while Biden is taking about 90% or more of voters who disapprove of Trump…The idea that Trump will somehow get his net approval rating into positive territory seems like a long shot. His net approval rating has only been positive for 1% of his entire administration and all those days were at the beginning of it (i.e. his honeymoon period).”

Do Campaign Visits Pay Off?” Analyzing “Evidence from the 2016 Presidential Election,” Alan I. Abramowitz, author of “The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump,” addresses the question at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “With infection levels rising in many states and several Trump campaign staffers having tested positive for COVID-19, it is not clear how many more live rallies the Trump campaign will be able to conduct between now and Election Day. The Biden campaign currently has no plans to hold live campaign rallies. However, the findings reported in this article indicate that whether either campaign holds live rallies and whether one holds more rallies than the other will probably have little or no impact on the election results at the state level. Campaign events may have other benefits such as energizing supporters and stimulating donations, but in 2016 they did not appear to have any effect on how well candidates did in the states in which they were held…Campaigns may derive indirect benefits from rallies, though, such as voter contacts, press coverage, and donations. But there’s not much evidence to show that the number of rallies in a given state had an impact on the results.”

“Far from adjusting to different times, Trump is betting — as he did in 2016 and as the tea party did in the Obama years — that the leftover right-wing slogans from the 1960s (see: “LAW AND ORDER!”) and a defense of Confederate “heritage” will win him the overwhelming majorities among older white voters that he needs to carry battleground states,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his Washington Post column. .\”But this isn’t working, and not only because former vice president Joe Biden is an older white guy who is rather hard to tar as an agent of the revolutionary left. It’s also failing because many older voters are petrified of what Trump’s astonishingly inept handling of the coronavirus pandemic means for their health and their very lives…But more importantly for the long run, the 2020 electorate is not the electorate of the tea party wave, or even of 2016. The new generations that Obama realignment enthusiasts acclaimed 12 years ago are, at long last, the dominant groups in the electorate…As a Pew Research Center study showed, members of Gen Z (born after 1996) couldn’t even vote in 2012 and made up just 4 percent of the 2016 potential electorate. But they will account for 1 in 10 eligible voters this year. Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) will constitute 27 percent of this year’s eligible voters. In combination with Gen Xers (born 1965 to 1980), more than 6 in 10 of this year’s electorate will be younger than 55…Three things are true: (1.) The post-boomer generations are more diverse than the rest of the electorate. (2.) Younger whites are more liberal than their elders on matters of racial justice — as a Washington Post-Schar School poll showed this month — and on social issues. (3.) The share of millennials who vote will be higher than in Obama’s elections simply because they are older than they were in 2008 or 2012.

A reminder for any undecided voters you may know:

 


Political Strategy Notes

In today’s New York Times frequent TDS contributor Ruy Teixeira writes in his op-ed, “Who Are the Key Voters Turning Against Trump?“: “Joe Biden may be ahead in national and many battleground polls, but Democrats are still fretting about whether key constituencies will turn out in November…But the Democrats have a secret weapon in 2020 on the other side of the age spectrum: senior voters. Among this age group — voters 65 and older — polls so far this year reveal a dramatic shift to the Democrats. That could be the most consequential political development of this election…The bipartisan States of Change project estimates that Mrs. Clinton lost this group by around 15 points. By contrast, the nonpartisan Democracy Fund + U.C.L.A. Nationscape survey, which has collected over 108,000 interviews of registered voters since the beginning of the year, has Mr. Biden leading among seniors by about six points. We are looking at a shift of over 20 points in favor of the Democrats among a group that should be at least a quarter of voters in 2020. That’s huge.”

Teixeira continues, “This pro-Democratic shift is very much in evidence in 2020 battleground states. The list includes Florida, where seniors should be an unusually high 30 percent of voters (a 17 point shift); Pennsylvania (24 points); and Michigan (26 points). In short, the age group that was President Trump’s greatest strength in 2016 is turning into a liability. In an election where he will need every vote against a strong Democratic challenge, that could be disastrous — and a harbinger of a new, broader coalition for the Democrats…Who are these seniors who are turning against Mr. Trump? As you might expect, the racial composition of the 65 and over population is majority white — about four in five. And among white seniors, we see the same shift as among seniors as a whole, over 20 points. The movement of white seniors against the president is clearly driving this trend…this shift is the most consequential we have seen in this election season. If it remains through November and beyond, it could define a new era in American politics.”

At Vox, Matthew Yglesias adds that “Consider current polling that says Biden is narrowly favored in North Carolina, Georgia, and Ohio while tied in Iowa. If you treat these as four independent contests, it starts to look extremely unlikely that Trump could sweep all four states…The bad news for Trump is that winning North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, and Iowa wouldn’t be nearly good enough for him. He needs to win Florida, Arizona, and Pennsylvania to carry the day. And right now, Biden’s leads in those states are big enough that it would take a very large and genuinely rare scale of polling error for that to happen.” However, “The good news for Trump is that his Electoral College edge remains large. In the FiveThirtyEight average, he’s losing nationally by 9.9, but he’s only losing Pennsylvania by 5.8 percentage points. That means that if Trump could cut his national polling deficit down to 5 or so — which could be easily enough achieved by reminding right-of-center voters who are currently undecided that they have fundamental disagreements with Biden on policy — he’d be within “normal polling error” range in the pivotal state. Even then, he’d be favored to lose, and it’s certainly possible that Trump’s numbers will get worse in the future rather than better (especially if the economy worsens when emergency measures expire in August), but the point is just that his large deficit is hardly insurmountable…After all, Michael Dukakis was up by 17 points in mid-July 1988.”

And Grace Sparks notes at CNN Politics: “Former Vice President Joe Biden leads over President Donald Trump in one of the critical Midwestern states that helped the Republican Party win the presidency four years ago, according to a Marquette University poll from Wisconsin…And a new poll out of Ohio from Quinnipiac University shows a tied race in a state where Trump bested Hillary Clinton by 8 percentage points in 2016…The Wisconsin poll, released by Marquette University Law School on Wednesday, finds Biden widening his lead over Trump, garnering 49% of registered voters to Trump’s 41%. In early May, Biden stood at 46% and Trump at 43%…Trump’s job approval has ticked down slightly — 45% of Wisconsin voters who approve of the job he’s doing as president, 51% disapprove. That’s moved from 47% approve and 49% disapprove in early May…In Ohio, Biden received 46% support among registered voters and 45% support Trump, according to the Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday…Trump’s approval stands at 44% approve, 53% disapprove in the Buckeye State and 43% approve, 54% disapprove of his handling of coronavirus.”

In “The Electoral College: Trump’s Floodgates are Creaking: Florida, Pennsylvania shift toward Biden, but he’s still shy of the magic number 270 in our ratings” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik explains: “Florida moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up, and Pennsylvania moves from Toss-up to Leans Democratic…This means 268 electoral votes are rated as at least leaning to Joe Biden in our ratings; 204 are at least leaning to Donald Trump; and there are 66 electoral votes in the Toss-up category…Biden is decently positioned, although his current lead may be inflated.” However, “we have to be on guard for polling, particularly state polling, that may inflate Biden’s lead. Steve Shepard of Politico wrote recently about some of the remaining concerns with state polling. And, going back to Michigan, one of the pollsters that did well there in 2016, Republican pollster Trafalgar Group, recently showed Biden up just one point there. So not all of the numbers have been bad for Trump lately, but most of them have been…Overall, our suspicion is that Biden’s lead is artificially high right now.”

NYT columnist Thomas B. Edsall probes a question of pivotal importance to millions of American workers, “Why Do We Pay So Many People So Little Money? The coronavirus pandemic is forcing America to confront its epidemic low-wage problem.” In his conclusion, Edsall warns of a threat to Democrats who support policy reforms to reduce income inequality, which surfaced in Georgia’s recent primary: “The state’s voting system “suffered a spectacular collapse, leading to absentee ballots that never got delivered and hourslong waits at polling sites,” The Times reported, noting that “Georgia is being roiled by a politically volatile debate over whether the problems were the result of mere bungling, or an intentional effort by Republican officials to inhibit voting.” Further, Edsall adds, “Donald Trump and the Republican Party clearly see Georgia as a model, and they are determined to capitalize on the pandemic to suppress the vote and conduct an overtly anti-democratic election on Nov. 3. If they have their way, one of the first targets of suppression will be the essential work force that has learned better than anyone the severity of the damage than can be inflicted by a Trump administration.”

Washington Post syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. also has a warning that should be of interest to voters and candidates concerned about political corruption: “Shudder for the rule of law in our nation. Be alarmed that a politicized Justice Department will be allowed to do whatever it wants in service to a sitting president. Be amazed that judges can spout errant nonsense to reach a result that just happens to square with the interests of a president who shares their partisan leanings…Yes, the decision by two Court of Appeals judges to block efforts to scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop its prosecution of Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, is that disturbing. Here’s hoping the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit insists on reviewing this scandalous decision and overturns it…Flynn himself pleaded guilty to two charges of lying to the FBI about his 2016 conversations with Sergey Kislyak, then-Russian ambassador to the United States, about sanctionsthen-President Barack Obama imposed on Russia for its interference in the 2016 campaign. Vice President Pence later said that Flynn lied to him about the nature of his contacts with Russia…After only 24 days on the job, Flynn was dismissed by President Trump, who explained in a December 2017 tweet: “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies.”

In her article, “Progressive Black candidates swept key races on Tuesday: The Democratic Party is starting to look more like Democratic voters,” Ella Nilsen writes at Vox: “In the 2018 midterms, the most successful candidates were women. In 2020, a year shaped by the Covid-19 pandemic and nationwide protests against police brutality, Black candidates are proving they’re the ones to watch — winning a spate of key races on Tuesday night…In New York and Virginia, young, progressive candidates of color swept races against powerful incumbents and in open competitions alike. In Kentucky, where a key Senate primary is too close to call, Black progressive candidate Charles Booker is still locked in a competitive racewith Marine Corps veteran Amy McGrath….“In 2018, Dem voters showed an unprecedented desire to nominate women,” Cook Political Report House editor Dave Wasserman tweeted. “In 2020, we’re witnessing another sea change in desire, this time toward Black candidates…Even with the Kentucky Senate race too close to call, the June 23 primaries show young Black candidates have momentum on their side this year.”

From “Dissident Republican Groups Shift Into High Gear to Kick Trump While He’s Down” by Hanna Trudo at The Daily Beast: “The increased interest in courting Republicans, including those who have been most vocal in their opposition to Trump’s re-election, comes as Biden continues to gain ground with supporters in key swing states, including those that the president flipped from blue to red four years ago. In several recent surveys, Biden leads Trump by double digit margins…“When it comes to Donald Trump, people who tell you that there are no swing voters are wrong,” said Sarah Longwell, the strategic director for Republican Voters Against Trump, a sizable operation amid the groundswell of GOP activity working against the president’s reelection. “I talk to them all the time.”…“It’s really about permission structures,” she said. “It’s a hard thing in our tribal partisan environment for people to move against the tribe. But once they see lots of other people like them saying, ‘hey this how I feel so this is what I’m going to do about it’ … that they find very compelling.”