washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

Political Strategy Notes

Charlie Cook asks “Why Couldn’t Democrats Ride the Blue Wave?” at The Cook Political Report and observes, “Did the label of “socialist” finally give enough swing voters cause for hesitation? What about charges that Democrats were going to push Medicare-for-all, or pack the Court? What about questions of exactly what would be in a Green New Deal and what would it do to jobs during a fragile economy? Was there a fear that Democrats would or could not keep law and order, given the “Defund the Police” movement?….This argument got some reinforcement when Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and Democracy Corps, a group he founded decades ago with James Carville, conducted a 2,000-person phone sample in 16 battleground states from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4. Greenberg’s argument, based on that study, was: “The big story is Donald Trump led an incendiary, race-laden working-class revolt against the elites, fueled by attacks on defunding the police, ads with Black urban violence and his demand for law and order that cost Democrats dearly in rural areas, with older voters and white working-class men, some GOP defectors, some suburban voters, and … an unprecedented rush of white working-class voters in the blue wall states. Trump pushed his white working-class men’s vote up 7 points at the end to match the support he got in 2016 and pushed up his rural vote 14 points to exceed it….Were there “shy Trump voters?” Although I was skeptical, it would appear that there were. In the POS Election Day survey, 19 percent of Trump voters indicated that they had hidden their support for him from most of their friends, while just 8 percent of Biden voters kept keep their support for him to themselves. The survey quoted one woman as saying, “I got called a white supremacist and a racist so I kept it to myself so I wouldn’t hear those words.”

At Brookings, William H. Frey explains why “Biden’s victory came from the suburbs.” Frey writes that “Trump’s loss to Joe Biden was due mostly to voters in large metropolitan suburbs, especially in important battleground states….That is the primary conclusion from this analysis of 2020 presidential votes using a Brookings Institution classification of U.S. counties by urban status. It shows that suburban counties and smaller metropolitan areas strongly contributed to Biden’s victories in the key states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, as well as his competitive showing in Georgia.  Nonmetropolitan counties did not move far, if at all, from their strong 2016 support of Trump….large suburban areas in 2020 registered a net Democratic advantage for the first time since Barack Obama’s victory in 2008. This is significant because more voters reside there than in the other three categories. In terms of aggregate votes in these large suburban counties, there was a shift from a 1.2 million vote advantage for Trump in 2016 to (at last count) a 613,000 vote advantage for Biden—a nearly 2 million vote flip. In addition, Biden benefitted from more modest Republican margins in small metropolitan areas. These advantages for the President-elect were even greater in key battleground states….As the nation’s demography becomes more diverse in terms of race, age, and educational attainment, the growing Democratic-leaning voting blocs are likely to comprise even greater shares of the suburban electorate—cementing the importance of the suburbs in elections to come.”

It appears that Democrats have a lot of work to do in persuading more young, white voters to support their candidates, especially in Georgia. Keeping in mind that available exit polls are not as reliable as the better crafted retrospective polls that will appear in a couple of months, Rachel Janfaza notes in “Organizers look to build off momentum and turn out a new batch of young voters in Georgia’s runoffs” at CNN Politics: “According to CNN’s national exit polls, young voters of color broke hard for Biden in Georgia, while their White counterparts were more loyal to Trump. While Black voters in Georgia ages 18-29 supported Biden over Trump by 76% to 23% and Latino voters in Georgia ages 18-29 supported Biden over Trump by 74% to 25%, White voters in Georgia ages 18-29 supported Trump over Biden by 60% to 38%.” Janfaza reports that a number of youth voter activist groups are already working to register and mobilize a record turnout in Georgia’s Jan. 5 run-off election that will decide which party has majority control of the U.S. Senate.

Of course Democrats are already arguing about 2022 strategy. At Vox Ella Nilsen shares some observations: “To be clear, Democrats will have control of the US House of Representatives in the next Congress, albeit with a much slimmer majority than in the current session. So far, seven moderate Democratic members lost their seats, compared to Democrats flipping just one Republican-held seat (plus two open seats)….Moderate Democrats like Spanberger and Lamb were clear that they think Republican attack ads tying centrist members to the party’s most left-wing positions were particularly damaging to frontline members — and could be Democrats’ downfall in 2022…..Progressives have gotten a foothold in the party on issues such as climate and racial justice. But even if their goal is trying to move the Overton window on the party’s big-picture goals through activism and organizing, members like Spanberger think ideas like defunding police departments and a Green New Deal are politically toxic….Lamb echoed similar sentiments in an interview with Vox earlier this year, saying Democrats needed to eschew left-wing priorities and focus on commonsense issues such as lowering prescription drug prices, preserving Social Security and Medicare, and protecting jobs — even if those jobs are fracking for natural gas in places like western Pennsylvania…..“I think one of the things that is very important is to realize that very effective Republican attacks are going to happen every cycle,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a recent CNN interview. “Not a single member of Congress that I’m aware of campaigned on socialism or defunding the police in this general election. The question is how can we build a more effective Democratic operation that is stronger and more resilient to Republican attacks.”

Political Strategy Notes

NYT columnist Thomas B. Edsall writes that we have just experienced  “an election in which Republican victories up and down the ballot are accepted unquestioningly, while votes for president-elect Biden on the same ballots are not.” Edsall notes also, “So far, only five out of 53 Republican Senators have publicly suggested that Trump take steps to open the transition process to Biden; none are in the leadership….Frank Wilkinson, a writer at Bloomberg and a friend of mine, provided the best explanation for Republican complicity in a July 15 column. His headline says it all: “Trump’s Party Cannot Survive in a Multiracial Democracy.”….In other words, Trump’s refusal to concede, and the support he is getting from his fellow Republicans, is part and parcel of the sustained drive by the right, especially since Barack Obama won a majority in 2008, to constrain and limit political participation by minorities by every available means: gerrymandering, voter suppression, restricting the time and place of balloting, setting new rules for voter identification and so forth.”

In his column, “Of Course Republicans Are Doing This. It’s Who They Are,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. also shares some choice words concerning what the GOP has become: “Well, the GOP has turned out to be as despicably ready to validate Trump’s falsehoods and authoritarian behavior as its worst critics feared. With precious few exceptions, Republican leaders are quite happy to be complicit in Trump’s subversion….Some innocent souls still want to see the GOP as a normal party ready to work with Biden to solve the nation’s problems…..Sorry, but that party disappeared long ago, and we should not, in retrospect, have expected anything else….And notice how Republicans have escalated their level of irresponsibility over the years. They started with a phony election analysis in 1992; by 2008, they were allowing a wild lie to poison the consciousness of their base. Now, they are willing to do something even worse. As Daniel Ziblatt, co-author of “How Democracies Die,” said in an interview, the GOP could “damage the legitimacy not just of Biden but of our democracy as a whole.”

It will be a while before we have reliable stats regarding which demographic groups showed up and how they voted in the November 3 election. But at Esquire, Charles Pierce has a richly-deserved tribute to two groups whose contributions proved heroic: “There are lovely little rainbows over the landscape elsewhere. The most glorious one is the simple fact that the demographic groups that have the most reasons to hate the government for its empty rhetoric and broken promises—Black Americans and Native Americans—turned out like champions in a result that ought to shame the rest of us. That goes from the high-profile organizers all the way down to the door-knockers, phone-callers, envelope-stuffers, and election observers….Stacey Abrams is a power who now may well have the fate of the Senate in her hands. Congresswomen Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, whose embrace on the floor of the House in 2019 still moves me when I think about it, both won re-election to the House. (Republican Yvette Harrell won a seat from New Mexico, too.) Indigenous voters very likely were a big part of Joe Biden’s margin of victory in both Arizona and Wisconsin.”

Georgia is already being flooded with a tsunami of Republican ads targeting Georgia voters in connection with the critically-important Jan. 5th run-off election for two U.S. Senate seats. Those who want to help Democrats win a U.S. Senate majority should check out “How To Help Win the 2 Georgia Senate Runoff Elections” by Tokyosand at Political Charge, make a donation and share the article with Georgia friends. The article includes information about where to make contributions and a comprehensive directory of links to organizations that are working to elect Democrats Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff. The article also notes that “Did you know there are 23,000 young people in Georgia who were not old enough to vote in the November 3rd election but will be for the January 5th runoff? It’s true! We need to get those young people registered to vote!” It’s no exaggeration to describe this election as one of the most important run-offs in U.S. history, as well as likely pivotal for the success of the Biden administration.

Political Strategy Notes

In his Washington Post column, “Don’t define Biden’s victory down,” E. J. Dionne Jr. writes, “Myths often grow out of mistaken first impressions. So it needs to be asserted unequivocally that President-elect Joe Biden’s victory is far more substantial than the conventional take would have it and more revelatory about the future than Donald Trump’s election was four years ago…Biden rebuilt the Democrats’ blue wall even as he extended the party’s reach in the South and Southwest….It was, as Biden has said more colorfully in other contexts, a big deal….But because Democrats did not win all they hoped for in the House, Senate and state legislative races, the magnitude of what happened last Tuesday is being defined down. And so many who oppose Trump simply can’t believe that more than 70 million of their fellow citizens would vote to reelect such a profoundly flawed man…Now, look at what Biden achieved. He won the vote with 75 million ballots — more than any presidential candidate in history — and enjoys a lead of more than 4 million that is likely to grow substantially….Biden’s margins in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are comparable to Trump’s in 2016 while his margin in Michigan is more than 10 times larger. The former vice president could win as many as 306 electoral votes, exactly Trump’s 2016 haul….Yet there is no clamor for Republicans to get to know “the Biden voter,” no call on conservatives to be more in touch with the country they live in….Democrats have won a popular vote majority in three of the last four presidential elections; Republicans have won the popular vote only once in the last 28 years. The country is changing in ways profoundly challenging to the GOP and the right. They’re the ones who should start worrying about being out of touch.”

Nate Silver puts it this way in his post, “Biden Won — Pretty Convincingly In The End” at FiveThirtyEight: “It’s not a landslide, by any means, but this is a map that almost any Democrat would have been thrilled about if you’d shown it to them a year ago. Biden looks to have reclaimed the three “blue wall” states — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin (ABC News has announced that Biden is the “apparent winner” in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin1) — that were central to Hillary Clinton’s loss. He may also win Arizona (he would become the first Democrat to do so since 1996) and, in the opposite corner of the country, Georgia (the first Democratic winner there since 1992). Additionally, Biden easily won Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, which could be a thorn in the side of Republicans going forward. He also ran far ahead of Clinton in rural northern states such as Maine, Minnesota and New Hampshire….Extrapolating out from current vote totals, I project Biden winning the popular vote by 4.3 percentage points and getting 81.8 million votes to President Trump’s 74.9 million, with a turnout of around 160 million.” Silver also notes, “But Democrats underperformed in the U.S. House, where they’ve lost almost every toss-up race that has been projected so far and Republicans have made a net gain of five seats and counting. It also appears as though Democrats will underperform in the House popular vote relative to the presidential vote and the generic ballot, where Democrats led by about 7 percentage points. That looks like a significant polling miss (although the House popular vote can take a long time to finalize). In that sense, the election could be described as more of a repudiation of Trump specifically than of Republicans writ large.”

Jessica Taylor notes at The Cook Political Report: “Ultimately, the blue tsunami, a blue wave or even a blue tide didn’t materialize. Not even a green tsunami of cash could push Democrats across the finish line in the races they needed. Public and many Republican polls were off, but Democratic private polling was even more wrong. Some GOP polls showed several close races, but given the climate few strategists expected those races would ultimately break their way. Our final projection was a Democratic gain of between two and seven seats, but we expected it to be on the higher than the lower end. Instead, Democrats have only currently netted one seat, after flipping Colorado and Arizona — consistent with our Lean Democrat ratings —but also lost, as expected, Alabama….Like 2016, surveys failed again to capture the Trump base that did show up on Election Day, while Democrats got their voters to cast ballots early or by mail. And with most polling stopping a week or so before Tuesday, that late surge may not have been captured fully, though some Republicans say there were some signs. Additionally, the millions of dollars the Senate Leadership Fund raised and spent in the final weeks of the race surely made a perhaps determinative difference.”

“Just four days after the election,” John Cassidy writes in The New Yorker, “Democratic politicians and activists are still coming to terms with a result that bitterly disappointed many of them, despite Joe Biden’s victory in the Presidential race. In a heated private conference call on Thursday, centrist and progressive members of the House Democratic caucus jostled over who or what was to blame for the Party’s unexpectedly weak showing in congressional races. (With a number of contests still to be called, the G.O.P. has already made a net gain of five seats.) At the local level, there is also a lot of sparring over why the Party failed in its bid to gain control of legislatures in a number of big states, including Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas…The first step in any political inquest is to figure out exactly what happened. The Democrats’ struggles in local and statewide races will take more time to unpack, but there are data already available about the race at the top of the ticket that can offer some insight into what happened in 2020. Even here, however, there isn’t much agreement…“I think all of their estimates are pretty suspect,” Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, told me on Friday. Citing an example, Teixeira pointed out that, although other estimates have suggested that at least seventy per cent of the 2020 electorate was white, the exit poll came up with a figure of sixty-five per cent. “Not on this planet, not in this election,” Teixeira said….”The theory that Biden would win, to a great extent, because he could reduce the white, non-college deficit turned out to be true,” Teixeira said. “He just didn’t win by as much as people wanted. Plus, people have trouble getting their minds around the fact that to go from minus thirty-two to minus twenty-five is just as good as going from plus seven to plus fourteen. And if the former group is bigger, it is actually better.”

Political Strategy Notes

At The Atlantic, Derek Thompson explains why “Why the 2020 election won’t be a 2016 sequel” and cites five key reasons, including: “1. In 2016, the pollsters totally whiffed on the Great Lakes states. In 2020, they’ve changed their methods….2. In 2016, a ton of undecided voters broke late for Trump. In 2020, most of those voters have already decided….3. In 2016, we had the mother of all October surprises. In 2020, we have the most stable race in decades….4. In 2016, district-level polls indicated a last-minute Democratic collapse. In 2020, they indicate Democratic strength….5. In 2016, there wasn’t a global pandemic. In 2020, there is a global pandemic.” Thompson concludes, “Biden holds a solid and steady lead over the incumbent president, while the pandemic is becoming more, not less, of a story as the country heads into the final days of voting…The most important difference between 2016 and 2020 isn’t about polling methodology or the opposing candidate. It’s this: Four years ago, Trump ran on the vague promise of success, and this year he’s running on a clear record of failure. Judging by the polls, Americans have noticed.”

At The Cook Political Report, Amy Walter has a bit of comfort for Democratic nail-biters on this election eve: “To win the election, Trump will need to win every state we currently have in the Toss Up column: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Iowa, Ohio, Maine’s 2nd CD, as well as the newest addition, Texas. Even then, Trump would be 22 electoral votes short of 270. He would need to win at least two of the seven states currently sitting in Lean Democrat: Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, PennsylvaniaNevada and New Hampshire. Trump carried all but Minnesota, Nevada and New Hampshire in 2016….At this point, Ohio and Maine’s 2nd District are probably the most promising for Trump, followed by Texas and Iowa. If he were to win all of those, he’d be at 188 electoral votes, still 82 votes shy of 270. Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina are pure Toss Ups with Biden ahead by anywhere from 1 to 2 points in those states….In Pennsylvania, the conventional wisdom, as well as the Trump campaign, see a tightening race. The FiveThirtyEight polling average puts Biden ahead by 5 points. But, congressional district polling paints a different — and more difficult — picture for the president. These polls find Biden expanding Clinton’s margins in suburban Philadelphia, but also find Trump failing to put up the same kind of numbers he did in 2016 in central, western and northeastern Pennsylvania.”

“Without discounting the possibility of an upset,” Ronald Brownstein writes, “Tuesday’s results are likely to demonstrate that the Democrats’ coalition of transformation is now larger—even much larger—than the Republicans’ coalition of restoration…With Trump solidifying the GOP’s transformation into a “white-identity party … a nationalist party, not unlike parties you see in Europe, … you see the Democratic Party becoming the party of literally everyone else,” as the longtime Republican political consultant Michael Madrid, a co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, told me….Even in the unlikely (but not inconceivable) event that Trump squeezes out another Electoral College victory, it seems almost certain that Biden will win the national popular vote. If he does, Democrats will have won the most votes in seven of the past eight presidential elections. No party has managed that since the formation of the modern party system in 1828. Likewise, the 47 current Democratic senators won 14 million more votes in their most recent elections than the 53 current Republicans, according to calculations by the Brookings Institution’s Molly Reynolds. With Democrats poised for Senate gains in midsize and larger states—such as Colorado, Arizona, and possibly North Carolina and Georgia—that imbalance will widen next week. Democrats don’t have the power in Washington to show for it right now, but in this century they have a much stronger claim than Republicans to be the nation’s majority party.”

Alan I Abramowitz shares  his “Final Forecast: Results from Two Methods of Predicting the 2020 Presidential Election” for the presidential election at Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Abramowitz, author of The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump, writes: “Two different methods of forecasting the 2020 presidential election, one based on an aggregate level model of the national electoral vote and one based on individual state polling data, yield almost identical predictions of the outcome. The aggregate level model, first published in early August, predicts a Biden margin of 345-193 in the electoral vote. A forecast based on simply combining the results of recent state polls predicts a Biden margin of 350-188. Both predictions are extremely close to the latest forecast from the much more complex FiveThirtyEight model.”

Political Strategy Notes

In “States of Play – Florida,” Mathew Isbell writes at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, “While it is a swing state, expect Florida to vote to the right of the national popular vote…Biden is likely to underperform Hillary Clinton in Miami-Dade, but outshine her in working class communities and suburbs…How Florida’s seniors judge Trump on COVID will likely decide the state…Democrats are likely to start the night with a big lead thanks to vote by mail being reported first, and the march will be on to see if the Republicans can close the gap…It is important for all watching that it isn’t just about who wins a county — but what the margin looks like. A bad Miami-Dade margin could be fatal for Biden. Meanwhile, if Trump is losing big in places like Pinellas or Seminole, he will be in bad shape…We should expect some of these counties to move independent of each other due to their unique demographics…Election night in Florida can be akin to a roller coaster as one county delivers good news and another bad news regardless of which side you are on.”

“In the past couple of weeks, key battleground states like Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania have received a lot of attention because Republicans have seen a spike in voter registration numbers. This is oftencited as a counterpoint to Joe Biden’s sizable lead over President Trump in the polls, as all these Republican registrations must be a sign of support for Trump that the polls are missing, right?,” Geoffrey Skelley writes in “Why A Surge In Republican Voter Registration Might Not Mean A Surge In Trump Support” at FiveThirtyEight…But the problem is party registration numbers can be a hard way to get a read on what’s happening in the election. Like early voting numbers, there are all kinds of pitfalls in how you should think about this data. Here are three of the biggest problems:…A voter’s party registration is a strong indicator of who they’ll support, but it’s not a guarantee. In fact, many voters registered with one party have actually been voting for the other party in recent elections but haven’t necessarily switched their registration to reflect the party they actually support…The election calendar also influences party registration trends, as key dates and campaign events drive interest in participation. For instance, a presidential primary or the registration deadline ahead of the general election can spark a flood of registrations. But sometimes this can create a disproportionate number of registrations from one party…most independents lean toward one party, but their preferences are still masked at the voter registration level. This is especially tricky in battleground states such as Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania that have seen major upticks in the share of voters who have registered with no party affiliation.”

Regarding tonight’s presidential candidate debate, The Nation’s John Nichols suggests, “Biden, Use This Debate to Prosecute Trump’s Covid Crimes,” and argues, “Tonight is the Democratic candidate’s chance to indict the president and the Republican senators who let Americans suffer and die…Biden should be specific, naming the cities, counties, and regions where Covid-19 is surging and killing Americans. He should detail the disproportionate damage this virus has done to people of color, the elderly, low-income Americans, frontline workers, and the vulnerable millions who lack adequate access to health care…Trump has attacked governorswho have tried to contain it while he mocked public health orders, peddled snake-oil “cures” and promoted “reopening” schemes even after he was warned that doing so would allow the disease to spread…Biden cannot allow himself to be distracted. There is too much at stake. Tonight, he can close the case not just against a president who deliberately endangered the nation he swore to protect but also against the Republican senators—like Joni Ernst in Iowa, Steve Daines in Montana, Cory Gardner in Colorado, Martha McSally in Arizona, Susan Collins in Maine, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, David Perdue in Georgia, John Cornyn in Texas, Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, and, yes, Mitch McConnell in Kentucky—who refused to hold the president accountable back when these crises might have been averted.”

At CNN Politics, Chris Cillizza reports that “Trump is being dominated by former Vice President Joe Biden in ad spending in the vast majority of swing states…Calculations made by CNN’s David Wright reveal that Biden’s campaign has spent far more than Trump’s on ads in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Colorado and New Hampshire…And in some of those places it’s not even close. Biden has spent $98 million to Trump’s $69 million on ads in Florida. In Pennsylvania, it’s a whopping $33 million gap; $61 million for Biden to $28 million for Trump…Trump’s campaign has outspent Biden’s in only four competitive states: Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas. At the start of the 2020 campaign, few politicos — of either party — would have predicted that Trump would be in any serious trouble in any of that quartet of states, all of which he won by 5 points or more in 2016. And yet, polling in all four states now suggests Biden and Trump are running neck and neck.”

Political Strategy Notes

At CNN Politics, Harry Enten notes, “If former Vice President Joe Biden is to win this election, his best chance probably runs through the Great Lakes…Were Biden to hold the Clinton states (and polls indicate that he probably will), he needs to find an extra 38 electoral votes…Those extra 38 electoral votes are likely to come from the six closest states Trump won in 2016: Arizona (11 electoral votes), Florida (29 electoral votes), Michigan (16 electoral votes), North Carolina (15 electoral votes), Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) and Wisconsin (10 electoral votes)…Now, look at the polling aggregates in each of those contests…Michigan: Biden +8 points…Wisconsin: Biden +8 points…Pennsylvania: Biden +7 points…Nebraska’s 2nd District: Biden +7 points…Arizona: Biden +4 points…Florida: Biden +4 points…Noth Carolina: Biden +3 points…What you see here is a pretty clear divide between the Great Lake and Sun Belt states. Biden has advantages of 7 points to 8 points in the Great Lakes, while his leads are 3 to 4 points in the Sun Belt…The key in these poll numbers is that Biden doesn’t actually need Arizona, Florida or North Carolina to win. Just by winning in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and holding the Clinton states, Biden gets to 278 electoral votes…Not surprisingly, statistical models suggest that Pennsylvania is the state most likely to determine the Electoral College winner in 2020.”

Polling data have indicated for months that Democrats have intended to vote earlier at much higher rates than Republicans, who were reacting to President Trump’s near-constant false claims that voting by mail would lead to widespread fraud,” Miles Parks writes at npr.org. “We’re now getting evidence from actual voting behavior that confirms those polls. Democrats have cast about 53% of the early votes, according to predictive analysis by the data firm TargetSmart, which uses voter data beyond party registration to project turnout trends. That’s compared with 36% by Republicans…The early voters also tend to trend older. Voters 50 or older make up more than 70% of the votes cast, according to the TargetSmart analysis. Hundreds of thousands more young people have voted at this point in October, compared with the 2016 election, but they still make up a lower share of the overall total than they did then…Notably, African American voters make up a larger share of early voters than in 2016. More than six times as many African American voters have voted early this year than had at the same point in the last presidential election, according to TargetSmart.”

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall has a list of things Democrats ought to be worrying about, including: “David Wasserman, House editor for The Cook Political Report. wrote on Oct. 1 that voter registration patterns over a longer period in key battleground states show that “Republicans have swamped Democrats in adding new voters to the rolls, a dramatic GOP improvement over 2016.”…Four of the six states Trump won by fewer than five points in 2016 allow voters to register by party: Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. In recent months, there have been substantially more Republicans added to the rolls than Democrats in each of them except for Arizona…Wasserman’s data:

Florida, since the state’s March primary, added 195,652 Republicans and 98,362 Democrats.

Pennsylvania, since June, Republicans plus 135,619, Democrats up 57,985.

North Carolina, since March, Republicans up 83,785 to Democrats 38,137.

In Arizona, the exception, “Democrats out-registered Republicans 31,139 to 29,667” in recent months.”

From “Democrats Don’t Need To Win Georgia, Iowa, Ohio Or Texas — But They Could” by Perry Bacon, Jr. at FiveThirtyEight: “Just eight years ago, it would have been weird to put Iowa and Ohio in the same electoral category as Georgia and Texas. In the 2012 election, President Obama won Iowa by 6 percentage points and Ohio by 3 pointswhile losing Georgia by 8 and Texas by 16…But in the early stages of the Trump era, Georgia and Texas got a bit more blue, while Iowa and Ohio got more red. (Exactly why these shifts happened at the same time is complicated, so let’s leave that aside for the moment.) In 2016 and 2018, these four states voted similarly — about 11 points, give or take, to the right of the country overall. That gave Trump fairly comfortable wins in all four states in 2016 — when Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by just 2 points — but Republicans barely won in several key statewide races in these four states in 2018, when Democrats won the national U.S. House vote by about 9 points…Fast-forward to 2020, which is looking about as blue as 2018 — and perhaps even more so — and all four states look competitive. You can see that in the latest polls. Morning Consult surveys released this week showed President Trump with just a 2-point lead in Georgia and Texas, and a 3-point lead in Ohio. A CBS News/YouGov poll had Biden and Trump tied in Iowa. Those are just a few polls, obviously, but they largely match the FiveThirtyEight polling averages in each of these states…Biden doesn’t need to carry these states — he can win a comfortable Electoral College victory without carrying them. Trump does need them, however — but he also needs bluer states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to win reelection. Similarly, Democrats can win a Senate majoritywithout carrying any of the four Senate seats up for grabs in these states (none in Ohio but two in Georgia).”

Teixeira: Demography Is Not Destiny – A Progressive Catholic Perspective

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

I was intrigued to run across this piece by Michael Sean Winters “It’s time to bury the idea that demography is destiny, once and for all” in the National Catholic Reporter. He builds on my essay on this topic that appeared in Persuasion in July.

Surveys of Latino voters indicate something else that is worth noting: Demography is not destiny. Turns out this fact is worth noting again and again and again because the theory stalked much of the commentariat throughout the Democratic primaries and the selection of a vice presidential choice. In 2016, it was the theory that dominated the strategy of the Clinton campaign and left them scratching their heads as the election results poured in.

Ruy Teixeira and John Judis’ 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, is often credited with birthing this theory, but that excellent book was devoid of simplistic slogans. They noted that minority groups that tended to support Democrats were increasing their share of the electorate by 2% every four years. They never said the Democrats could ignore white, working-class voters.

In an essay at Persuasion, Teixeira argued that people misread the thesis of the book and, just as importantly, continued to misread the facts:

“Instead of focusing on the fact that this emerging majority only gave Democrats tremendous potential if they played their cards right, many progressives started to interpret it as a description of an inevitable future. The new Democratic majority, they believed, had already arrived. All they had to do to win election after election was to mobilize the growing segments of the electorate, and the demographic changes that favored them would take care of the rest. Sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly, our thesis turned into the simplistic argument that “demographics are destiny.”

The Obama coalition, remember, included enough white, working class-voters to comfortably win states like Pennsylvania and Iowa. Yet, in 2012, although Obama won reelection, his deficit among white, working-class voters doubled. The bailout of Wall Street never did trickle down to Wilkes-Barre. Teixeira explains:

“The bowdlerization of the emerging Democratic majority thesis neatly complemented the political predilections of a rising set of people who placed questions of group identity and disadvantage at the heart of their political activism. This approach, which soon came to be known as “identity politics,” privileges mobilization around multiple, intersecting levels of oppression based on group identification over mobilization around universal rights and principles that bind people together across groups. Since most white non-college voters were rightly perceived to be uninterested in — if not outright hostile to — the core tenets of intersectional politics, those who favored this approach had a reason to embrace an electoral strategy that dispensed with them.”

Soon enough, the candidate called them “deplorables,” and her schedulers never saw a reason to go to Wisconsin. The wishful demographic theory was combined with the meritocratic prejudices that Michael Sandel has so brilliantly diagnosed among America’s cultural leaders. The Democrats were — and are — unprepared for the populist backlash that Donald Trump rode into the White House, and that might carry him in a second time….

If you look at the research to which I linked in my article about polling Latinos, you will find that they articulate the same essential working-class concerns as white voters in Youngstown, Ohio: health care, job security, opportunities for their children, better schools. The New York Times article by Ian Haney López and Tory Gavito was especially on point, demonstrating the fact that core tropes of identity politics do not resonate with Latinos. They wrote that most Latinos declined to see themselves as “people of color,” that “the majority [of Latinos] rejected this designation. They preferred to see Hispanics as a group integrating into the American mainstream, one not overly bound by racial constraints but instead able to get ahead through hard work.” If Trump emphasizes the “white” in “white, working-class voters,” Democrats need to emphasize the “working-class.”

What does any of this have to do with our Catholic faith? It turns out, a lot. I wish I could tell you that the contempt for fellow citizens and for fellow Catholics epitomized by Hillary Clinton’s word “deplorables” was unique to her, but it isn’t. There is a cancer in the heart of the political left that has infected the Catholic left, too, and it is the cancer identified by Teixeira. The cancer is the “approach, which soon came to be known as ‘identity politics,’ [which] privileges mobilization around multiple, intersecting levels of oppression based on group identification over mobilization around universal rights and principles that bind people together across groups.”

It is a cancer because it does not unite — and culture always unites. The Catholic social teaching that formed Biden does not reduce people to their group because it starts with the universalist belief that we are all created in the image and likeness of God, and possessed of an inherent dignity. Biden would never call white, working-class voters, or anyone else, “deplorable.” Catholic social teaching balances the Gospel mandate to identify with the marginalized with this universalism that is at the heart of the Gospels, too.

Trump’s evil genius consists in his ability to accept the terms of identity politics and turn them to his own advantage. But let us be clear: His path has been cleared by those who traffic in identity politics, those who seek to denigrate any American ideal that strives for universality. Trump harvests grievances. He did not plant them. In his narcissism, he may not really give a damn about white, working-class voters. His economic policies — apart from trade — will not really help them. But he is never more sincere than when he shares their disgust with cultural and political elites who look down on working-class voters if they look at them at all. If one of the only things Democrats have to say to white working-class voters is that they suffer from white privilege, no one should be surprised if Pennsylvania and Wisconsin stay in the red column this year.

There is a reason that so much of the country stayed Democratic long after the New Deal: Franklin Roosevelt had created policies that helped them; he addressed their needs, and he never condescended to them. He gave them hope. In the absence of such hope, men like Trump, who offer only hateful and false answers to the problems many working-class cities and towns endure, will continue to win elections.”

Interesting. I am more optimistic than the author that Biden is making real progress among these voters in this election, perhaps especially white working class Catholics in Rustbelt states. But he is quite right that Democrats still have a long-term challenge convincing these voters that the party is committed to universal uplift that very much includes them.

Political Strategy Notes

There are lots of perceptive insights in George Packer’s article, “Republicans Are Suddenly Afraid of Democracy” in The Atlantic. Here’s an excerpt: “Biden and his vice-presidential nominee, Senator Kamala Harris, should remind voters that Republicans, not Democrats, have turned the Senate into a body that produces no legislation but simply functions as a conveyor belt to cram every level of the judiciary with partisan conservative judges, filling seats that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell forced President Obama to leave empty. The goal of this strategy is to seize control of the third, unelected branch of government and use it to prevent the elected branches, if they ever return to majority rule, from governing. What we’re hearing now from these latter-day Calhouns is fear of representative democracy.”

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are answering questions about “court-packing” by pointing out that the Republicans are doing it right now. As Harris has noted, “of the 50 people who President Trump appointed to the Court of Appeals for lifetime appointments, not one is Black.” Biden has said, ““We should be focused on what’s happening right now,” he said. “And the fact is that the only packing going on is this court is being packed now by the Republicans after the vote has already begun. I’m going to stay focused on it so we don’t take our eyes off the ball here.”… The size of the high court has been changed a half-dozen times in U.S. history, and the Constitution’s framers deliberately allowed for changing the size without requiring a constitutional amendment. Besides, what alternative to Democrats have, other than meekly accepting McConnell’s abuse of long-standing, bipartisan hearing procedures? Allowing 6-3 Republican majority to stand would mean, not only a reversal of Roe v. Wade, marriage equality and ending the Affordable Care Act, but even more tolerance for voter suppression, crushing unions, undermining employee rights, weakening environmental, criminal justice and consumer protections, to name a few endangered Democratic reforms. Democrats have a job to do in educating the public about the need to expand the Supreme Court. But not using the rules to to their advantage, as McConnell does all the time, would be political suicide. The radicalism of McConnell, more than anyone else, has made expanding the court nearly inevitable.

In “Pack” the Supreme Court? Absolutely 100% yes — it’s the only way to save democracy” at salon.com, Paul Rosenberg quotes University of Washington political scientist Scott Lemieux, who has pointed out that violations of bipartisan norms have “all led to constitutional crises that ended only when the court itself backed down,” including Franklin D. Roosevelt’s oft-misremembered confrontation, which put an end to the court striking down New Deal legislation, most notably the Social Security Act. Nor is there any “normal” way out through political victory, Lemieux warns: A 6-3 conservative majority “would be essentially impossible for Democrats to displace through ordinary means, irrespective of the results of future elections.”…So what might seem in isolation like an extreme or unwarranted norm-breaking move by Democrats is actually the exact opposite: an act of restoration to the guiding shared norms that have predominated across better than two centuries. Continued violation of these shared norms will only intensify the erosion of trust that brought us Donald Trump in the first place, and which he has greatly intensified with the enthusiastic cooperation of Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell…So expanding the Supreme Court is the only option. As I said earlier, the real question is by how much.”

Notre Dame history professor Bill Svelmoe has a suggestion for Democratic senators questioning Judge Amy Barrett at the Supreme Court hearings, which begin Monday. An excerpt from his Facebook page: “If Democrats do attend the hearings, they should not focus on Barrett’s views on any future cases. She’ll just dodge those questions anyway…Instead Democrats should focus on the past four years of the Trump administration…“Judge Barrett, would you please explain the emoluments clause in the Constitution. [She does.] Judge Barrett, if a president were to refuse to divest himself of his properties and, in fact, continue to steer millions of dollars of tax payer money to his properties, would this violate the emoluments clause?”…Then turn to the Hatch Act. “Judge Barrett, would you please explain the Hatch Act to the American people….Then turn to all the other violations of the Hatch Act during the Republican Convention. Get Barrett’s opinion on those. Then turn to Congressional Oversight.“…Then go through all of the contacts between the Trump administration and Russians during the election and get her opinion on whether these amount to collusion. Doesn’t matter how she answers. It gets Trump’s perfidy back in front of Americans right before the election…Ask her about the separation of children from their parents at the border. And on and on and on through the worst and most corrupt administration in our history…Even if Barrett bobs and weaves and dodges all of this, it reminds Americans right before the election of just how awful this administration has been…”

At Politico, Holly Otterbein explains why “‘Forgotten’ Pennsylvania region holds key to Trump’s fate” – and why watching election returns from PA’s Luzerne County may provide an early election eve ‘tell’ about the 2020 presidential election outcome: “Trump won working-class Luzerne by 26,000 votes in 2016 — nearly 60 percent of his margin of victory in a state that he narrowly carried. As part of his strategy to win Pennsylvania again, his campaign is betting on increased turnout in the small cities and rural reaches of the northeast…If Biden somehow managed to take back Luzerne County, it would make it virtually impossible for Trump to win Pennsylvania — and likely the presidency. It would also signal that Democrats had loosened the GOP’s grip on blue-collar white voters, something that could have ramifications for years to come. In fact, even if Biden simply cut back the size of Trump’s victory in the region, it would make Trump’s path to victory in the state very difficult.”

In “Republicans express fears Donald Trump will lose presidential election” at The Guardian, Richard Luscombe writes, “Ted Cruz fears an election “bloodbath”. His fellow top Republican senator Thom Tillis is talking in terms of a Joe Biden presidency. And even Mitch McConnell, the fiercely loyal Senate majority leader, won’t go near the White House over Donald Trump’s handling of coronavirus protocols…Individually, they could arguably be seen as off-the-cuff comments from Trump’s allies attempting to rally support for the US president just days ahead of a general election that opinion polls increasingly show him losing…But collectively, along with pronouncements from several other Republicans appearing to distance themselves from Trump, his administration and its policies, it reflects growing concern inside the Republican party’s top tier that 3 November could be a blowout win for Joe Biden and the Democrats…“I think it could be a terrible election. I think we could lose the White House and both houses of Congress, that it could be a bloodbath of Watergate proportions,” Cruz, the junior senator for Texas and former vocal critic of Trump, said in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Friday.”

In another article in The Atlantic, “Trump’s Very Ordinary Indifference to the Common Good,” Brooke Harrington, author of Capital without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percentamplifiess a theme that might make for a potent Democratic ad. As Harrington writes, “what The New York Times revealed in its recent reporting on Trump’s tax returns was not just one man’s refusal of his fiscal obligations. Those returns, along with Trump’s whole approach to governing, are a concrete manifestation of a broader and more troubling phenomenon: an elite insurgency in which wealthy, well-connected people around the world stiff the societies that gave them success. Observing Trump’s open defiance of the law and rejection of accountability, many critics have attributed the pattern to the quirks of Trump’s individual psychology. But they have missed the larger picture: This president is an entirely ordinary member of a global elite whose members believe that rules are for chumps…His offhand remark while filming Access Hollywood 15 years ago could serve as the unofficial motto for the whole offshore world: “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” Put another way, it’s the arrogance, stupid.

At Vox, , , and  probe “What a Democratic Senate wants,” and explain: “If they flip the Senate, Democrats are clear-eyed that their first priority must be more Covid-19 relief — especially now that a preelection deal looks increasingly unlikely. Up next is trying to supercharge a lagging economy with a green jobs bill, likely including a massive infrastructure package on which Democrats hope to find common ground with Republicans. Democrats also want to pass sweeping anti-corruption reforms, enhance and expand the Affordable Care Act, consider a public option, and take up a criminal justice bill to combat police brutality against Black Americans. And that doesn’t even get to other priorities like immigration reform or passing universal background checks…Broadly, some senior Democrats are imagining what they have called a “never again” agenda if they control the White House and Congress, a response to Covid-19 that addresses many of America’s economic and health disparities exposed by the pandemic. Covering the 30 million or so Americans who are still uninsured would be a natural fit for such a legislative agenda. “First, you have to stop the bleeding,” one senior Democratic official said recently. “But if we don’t take full advantage of this moment, we’ll be making a huge mistake.”

Some good points about the difference between legitimate “Poll watching” and intimidation in this video:

Political Strategy Notes

Debates are seldom pivotal for determining election outcomes, but Democrats should be encouraged by Andrew Prokop’s “The first post-VP debate poll says Kamala Harris won” at Vox, which notes that “the first poll we have of vice presidential debateviewers is good news for Sen. Kamala Harris — and her running mate, Joe Biden…The poll, conducted by CNN and SSRS, found that 59 percent of debate watchers thought Harris won, and 38 percent thought Vice President Mike Pence won, an impressive margin of victory for Harris…In comparison, a poll by CNN after the 2016 vice presidential debate found that Pence won: 48 percent of respondents that year gave the victory to Pence and 42 percent to Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)… CNN’s David Chalian pointed out on air that part of Harris’s margin is explained by the poll’s sample skewing more Democratic. But that’s not enough to explain all of Harris’s margin: 38 percent of respondents were Democrats, 29 percent were Republicans, and 33 percent were independents…69 percent of women who watched thought Harris won, and 30 percent thought Pence did. Among male viewers, it was a near tie — 48 percent thought Harris won, and 46 percent thought Pence did.”

Looking ahead to the next presidential debate, Dan Merica. Kevin Bohn and Chandelis Duster report at CNN Politics that “Trump says he won’t participate in next debate after commission announces it will be virtual,” and write, “The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations,” the commission said in a statement. “The town meeting participants and the moderator, Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks, will be located at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida. The White House Pool will provide coverage of the second presidential debate.”…”I am not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump said on Fox Business. “I am not going to waste my time on a virtual debate.”…Trump’s comment throws into question the second debate after the commission took the significant steep to wholly remake the contest between the two candidates. The move was seen as needed by members of the debate commission given the uncertainty around the President’s health.”

Ramsey Touchberry writes at Newsweek: “Senate Republicans enter the final weeks of this election pouring millions of dollars into states they never expected would be competitive, and are still struggling to explain their indefensible records of voting to eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions and their failed coronavirus response…Sen. Martha McSally (R) is projected to lose her re-election fight to Democrat Mark Kelly, a former astronaut. Cook Political Report rates the race as “lean Democrat.” FiveThirtyEight predicts there is a 79 percent chance Kelly wins…Sen. Cory Gardner (R) is also projected by Cook to lose against Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. Cook has the race as “lean Democrat.” FiveThirtyEight gives Hickenlooper a 75 percent chance of winning, up from 65 percent on September 2….Cook rates the match between Sen. Susan Collins (R) and Democratic challenger Sara Gideon, speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, as a “toss-up.” FiveThirtyEight has increased the likelihood Gideon unseats Collins from 51 percent on September 16 to 62 percent as of Tuesday….Another “toss-up” race by Cook, FiveThirtyEight shows Sen. Joni Ernst (R) and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield virtually tied. Last month, they predicted Ernst with a 59 percent chance of winning but have since decreased it to 51 percent.”

“President Trump spent Tuesday night tweeting madly for hours about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and various conspiracy theories about the 2016 election,” Heather Digby Parton writes at salon.com. “Twitterati speculated that his experimental drug cocktail and steroid treatment for COVID-19 might be making him manic and grandiose. But how could you tell, really? This is pretty much his normal modus operandi…Considering the Soviet-style propaganda campaign they’ve been running at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, that’s no surprise…The White House is apparently in total chaos, which isn’t really news, but there does seem to be a certain desperation that isn’t always present. This is likely because of Trump’s atrocious messaging to the public over the past few days, in which he’s pretending he has “beaten” the virus with his strength and virility, and telling people to stop letting the virus “dominate” their lives.”

Here’s a better than usual social media meme for Democratic messaging about Trump’s Covid-19 rant:

In “GOP Senate majority at risk after monster fundraising quarter by Democrats,” David M. Drucker writes at the San Francisco Examiner: “Democratic candidates are raising hundreds of millions of dollars. Even previously overlooked challengers saw their coffers swell with contributions from energized grassroots liberals in July, August, and September, turning sleepy Senate races into a potential nightmare for sitting Republicans and the party’s precarious three-seat majority…It’s no longer just Arizona, Colorado, and Maine, blue-trending battlegrounds where Republicans were prepared for a dogfight from the beginning of the 2020 cycle — or purple states such as Iowa and North Carolina. They are now looking over their shoulder in typically ruby-red territory such as Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, and South Carolina….“The numbers are astounding,” GOP operative Doug Heye said. “Republicans are right to be concerned.”..Third-quarter fundraising totals are not due to be released until Oct. 15. But Democrats have begun publicizing their numbers…The cash allows Democratic challengers a chance to drown out Republicans on television and fund robust voter turnout operations with all of the technological frills.”

Nathaniel Rakich shares findings from FiveThirtyEight’s “third and final forecast of the 2020 election,” and writes, “while Democrats are slight favorites to flip the Senate and Joe Biden is a solid-but-not-overwhelming front-runner for the presidency, Democrats have between a 92 and 97 percent chance of keeping control of the House…Democrats must defend 30 seats in districts won by President Trump in 2016 (as opposed to only six Republicans who sit in districts that Hillary Clinton carried)…And now that we have a House forecast, we can combine it with our Senate and presidential forecasts to determine the odds that either Democrats or Republicans will have full control of the federal government…the likeliest scenario is that Democrats will win full control of the federal government: There’s a 63 in 100 chance of that happening…But there is also a good chance (31 in 100) that we will once again have a divided government in Washington…”

From today’s update on election trends by Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Recent rosy polling for Joe Biden in the presidential race may represent an artificial sugar high for the challenger…But at this point, Donald Trump needs to be making up ground — not treading water or falling further behind…11 rating changes across four categories of races (president, Senate, House, and governor) almost exclusively benefit Democrats…Biden’s leads in the RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight polling averages are now close to 10 points apiece, and a couple of respected national polls, CNN/SSRS and NBC News/Wall Street Journal, have shown Biden leading by 16 and 14 points, respectively. The state-level numbers generally have been bad for the president, too: for instance, Monmouth University pegged Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania earlier this week at around 10 points; the pollster’s previous Keystone State survey had Biden up only a few points based on different turnout models. In other words, one of the better state-level polls for Trump in a key state was reversed in fresher polling.”

Political Strategy Notes

Mary Papenfuss notes in “Horrified Walter Reed Attending Physician Slams Trump’s Drive-By Risk To Secret Service” at HuffPo: “An attending physician at Walter Reed Medical Center blasted the “astounding irresponsibility” of President Donald Trump, saying he put the lives of Secret Service agents at risk to wave at his fans from his motorcade on Sunday…Trump made a spur-of-the-moment decision to briefly leave the hospital where’s he being treated for COVID-19 to do a “surprise” drive-by in the presidential SUV to wave to supporters — whom he called “great patriots” — gathered outside. “Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” Dr. James Phillips tweeted. “They might get sick…Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity,” Phillips said of the agents accompanying Trump…Phillips — the head of Disaster and Operational Medicine in the Emergency Medicine Department of the George Washington University School of Medicine —  noted that the SUV is hermetically sealed to protect against chemical attacks. “The risk of COVID-19 transmission inside is as high as it gets,” other than during medical procedures, he added.”

Trump’s mismanagement of the pandemic could hurt with senior voters. As Harold Gold writes at Marketwatch, “In an interview, economist Teresa Ghilarducci, a professor at The New School in New York City and one of the nation’s leading experts on retirement, told me that half—that’s right, half—of Americans aged 55 and up will retire in poverty or near poverty…“Our data is showing that, because of the COVID recession, about 50% of workers over the age of 55 will be poor or near-poor adults when they reach 65,” she said.” Gold asks, “What’s behind this? People losing their jobs and health insurance because of COVID-19? Or losing the employer match on their 401(k) contributions? Or having to tap into retirement savings to cover daily expenses? “All of the above,” said Ghilarducci…But it starts with job losses. “Older workers are losing their jobs at a faster rate, relative to younger people and relative to where they had been before than they were in the Great Recession,” she told me…A report done by the New School Retirement Equity Lab found that over half of older unemployed workers may be forced into involuntary retirement. Nearly three million older workers have left the labor force since March and if the economic disruptions caused by COVID-19 continue, another million could join them soon…“

According to Data for Progress, “Our new Senate polling is showing really good signs for Democrats. We find:

  • In Maine, Democrat Sara Gideon has opened up a five point lead over Republican incumbent Susan Collins (46-41).

  • In Iowa, Democrat Theresa Greenfield has a narrow edge over Republican incumbent Joni Ernst (46-45).

  • In Arizona, Mark Kelly has a commanding nine-point lead over Republican incumbent Martha McSally (51-42).

  • In South Carolina, Democrat Jaime Harrison is inches away from Republican incumbent Lindsay Graham — he’s down by just one point (44-45)…That’s right: even in South Carolina, Democrats have a serious shot at flipping Republican-held Senate seats. Read our writeup on these results for Crooked by clicking here.”

Data for Progress also noted of the first presidential candidate debate that “Viewers also thought Biden was more “presidential” than Trump by an even wider margin (53-33). Crucially, this includes Independents and Third Party voters, who rated Biden as more presidential by a 20-point margin…But Biden didn’t just win the debate on character — he won it on policy grounds as well. Voters think he’ll handle race relations, the coronavirus pandemic, the integrity of our elections, and the Supreme Court better than Trump. That said, respondents narrowly preferred Trump’s position on the economy.” A chart:

In “Post-debate CNN poll: Six in 10 say Biden won the debate,” Jennifer Agiesta writes at CNN Politics: “Six in 10 debate watchers said former Vice President Joe Biden did the best job in Tuesday’s debate, and just 28% say President Donald Trump did, according a CNN Poll of debate watchers conducted by SSRS…In interviews with the same voters conducted before the debate, 56% said they expected Biden to do the better job while 43% expected that Trump would…About two-thirds said Biden’s answers were more truthful than Trump’s (65% Biden to 29% Trump), and his attacks on the President were more frequently seen as fair. Overall, 69% called Biden’s attacks on Trump fair while just 32% said Trump’s attacks were fair…A majority of debate watchers (57%) said that Tuesday’s debate did not affect their choice for president, while the minority who said they were moved were more apt to say they became more likely to vote Biden (32%) than Trump (11%).” However, “The voters who watched the debate were more partisan than Americans as a whole — 36% identified as independents or non-partisans compared with around 40% in the general public, and the group of debate watchers was more Democratic than a typical survey of all adults, with 39% identifying as Democrats and 25% as Republicans.”

“Joe Biden’s national lead over President Donald Trump nearly doubled after Tuesday’s presidential debate, with voters saying by 2-to-1 that Biden has the better temperament to be president, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. As Mark Murray writes at nbcnews.com, “The poll was conducted in the two days after the unruly and insult-filled debate Tuesday but before Trump tested positive for Covid-19 and was hospitalized Friday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center…Biden is now ahead of Trump by 14 points among registered voters, 53 percent to 39 percent — up from his 8-point lead in the previous poll, before the debate…The biggest declines for Trump were among seniors (who now back Biden by 62 percent to 35 percent) and suburban women (58 percent to 33 percent)…And men 50 years and older moved to a 1-point advantage for Biden in the latest poll, compared to a 13-point advantage for Trump in the pre-debate NBC News/WSJ poll.”

Regarding Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Murray adds, “The poll asked voters about Trump’s pick to succeed the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett…Thirty-five percent of registered voters say they support Barrett’s nomination, while 33 percent oppose it; 30 percent say they don’t know enough about her…The findings are similar to the first NBC News/WSJ numbers on Trump’s 2018 Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, whom the Senate confirmed by a narrow 50-48 vote…In a separate question, 50 percent of voters say they would prefer the Senate to wait to fill the Supreme Court seat until there’s a winner in the presidential contest, while 38 percent want a vote before the election.”

Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman explain why “Biden Lead Looks Firmer as Midwest Moves His Way” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and note, “Joe Biden is now over 270 electoral votes in our ratings as we move several Midwestern states in his favor.” Kondik and Coleman move Ohio and Iowa from “leans Republican” to “toss-up” and they now have Minnesota moving from” leans Democratic” to “likely Democratic,” and they move Wisconsin from “toss-up” to “leans Democratic. They add, “Changes in the battle for Congress benefit Democrats almost exclusively. We’re moving two Senate races in their direction, as well as several House contests.” Their updated Electoral College map: