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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Teixeira: Biden Bolshevism Watch (2)

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

Is it that the left just can’t take “yes” for an answer?

One has to wonder given the continued lack of enthusiasm for Biden in certain quarters. This is strange given that the left presumably stands for, well, left policies. And Biden’s got ’em by the bushel, as Matt Yglesias lays out in an excellent, detailed article on Vox.

1. A big minimum wage increase
2. Free college for most
3. Enhancing the Affordable Care Act
4. Dramatic transformation of federal housing policy
5. A huge financial boost to schools with low-income students
6. A labor-friendly climate agenda
7. Major commitments on union organizing
8. Back to the future on immigration

As Yglesias points out, this adds up to a lot. And how far Biden gets with it if elected will have less to do with any lack of ambition and more to do with the Congress he has to work with. The logical course, therefore is to back Biden to the hilt, work hard to deliver him the Congress he’ll need and be prepared to put pressure on him to stick with the commitments he has already made.

Or is it really the case that the left can’t take “yes” for answer? Between now and November, we’ll find out.

“Biden is a mainstream Democrat, and as the Democratic Party has grown broadly more progressive in recent years, he is now running on arguably the most progressive policy platform of any Democratic nominee in history.

It’s a detailed and aggressive agenda that includes doubling the minimum wage and tripling funding for schools with low-income students. He is proposing the most sweeping overhaul of immigration policy in a generation, the biggest pro-union push in three generations, and the most ambitious environmental agenda of all time.

If Democrats take back the Senate in the fall, Biden could make his agenda happen. A primary is about airing disagreements, but legislating is about building consensus. The Democratic Party largely agrees on a suite of big policy changes that would improve the lives of millions of Americans in meaningful ways. Biden has detailed, considered plans to put much of this agenda in place. But getting these plans done will be driven much more by the outcome of the congressional elections than his questioned ambition.”

Teixeira: It’s an Older Voter Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand (2)

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

Rob Griffin and John Sides have a very good article up on the Monkey Cage blog where they describe in detail Biden’s current relative over-performance among older voters and what a pickle this puts Trump in. They are using the Nationscape data, 6,000 interviews a week, which I have referenced many times.

As for why this is, they basically wind up saying: “Beats us!” though they are pretty sure it isn’t just a reaction to the coronavirus crisis and Trump’s dreadful handling thereof.

Herewith, my own analysis of the Nationscape data since the beginning of the year for the 65+ age group, nationally and for selected states, with comparisons to the States of Change data from 2016.

National: Biden +6, Clinton -15
Florida Biden -6, Clinton -20
Georgia Biden -2, Clinton -27
Iowa Biden -11, Clinton -24
Michigan Biden +20, Clinton -9
North Carolina Biden -17, Clinton -21
Ohio Biden -2, Clinton -21
Pennsylvania Biden +4, Clinton -16
Wisconsin Biden +12, Clinton -16

GQR Research: Review of 1000+ Polls Shows Most Nations Still Cautious on Reopening Economies

The following article is cross-posted from a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research paper, the 11th in a weekly series that summarizes and analyzes what is known about global public opinion on COVID-19:

Today GQR continues its weekly series of papers that summarize and analyze all publicly available public opinion data on the pandemic, worldwide. This issue features an in-depth analysis of how publics worldwide are reacting as many countries begin to reopen their economies and societies after weeks of lockdown. The main takeaways from this week’s edition  include:

  • Global publics feel cautious about re-opening. In most countries, people are more likely to feel their government is seeking to reopen the economy and society too quickly rather than too slowly. Strong fears of a second wave of COVID-19 later this year add to this sense of caution.
  • In most countries, high shares now feel uncomfortable going to their workplaces, and outright majorities feel uncomfortable resuming most other major economic and social activities, apart from food shopping.
  • Publics in most countries are particularly uncomfortable with the idea of sending children back to school.
  • Countries that have built trust with their publics on battling the coronavirus tend to see greater public readiness to resume economic activity. This undercuts the idea of a strict tradeoff between health protection and economic revival, and suggests instead that countries where there is low trust in their leaders on battling COVID-19 – including the US – may also pay an extra economic penalty as their publics hesitate to return to workplaces, stores, schools, and entertainment venues.

With this edition of Pandemic PollWatch, GQR has now reviewed in all over 1,000 different opinion polls from 100 countries and territories. We invite readers to alert us to any relevant global polling data not captured here. Future installments in this series will go into more depth about other public opinion dynamics regarding the pandemic.

Read the full article HERE.

Teixeira: Can the Democrats go 8 for 8 and 4 for 4 in the Southwest?

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

The Democrats have not controlled all 8 Senate seats in the Southwest states of AZ, CO, NM and NV since 1941. And the Democrats have not carried all four of these states in a Presidential election since 1948. This year, the Democrats could quite plausibly accomplish both of these feats–something the Democrats have not accomplished together since 1936. Ron Brownstein makes the case here, a case which accords with my own reading of the polls and trends and, at the Presidential level, is consistent with the data rolling in from the massive Nationscape survey. I’ll have more to say about this down the line.

And then there’s this:

“The scariest prospect for Republicans is that everything said …about Arizona and Colorado in particular could also apply to Texas, the foundation stone of the GOP’s national political strength. From Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin down south through Houston and San Antonio, the four metropolitan areas in what’s called the Texas triangle account for just over two-thirds of the state’s votes and jobs and more than three-fourths of its economic output.

All of them rank among America’s 10 fastest-growing cities, according to the census. (All are also big recipients of transplants from California, which sent over 86,000 migrants to Texas just in 2018.) And as they grow, they are shading more blue: In his narrow 2018 defeat, the Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke won the five counties encompassing those cities by nearly 800,000 votes, roughly six times then-President Barack Obama’s combined margin just six years earlier.

Like other observers, [Brookings Mountain West head Robert] Lang says that for now, the massive GOP advantage in Texas’ rural areas should allow Trump to hold it in 2020 (albeit likely by a much smaller margin than his 9-percentage-point victory last time). Republican Sen. John Cornyn also looks tough to beat. But in both parties, many agree that the shift away from the GOP in the large metropolitan areas driving the state’s population growth have placed Texas on the same political moving walkway as Colorado, Nevada and Arizona, only a few steps behind.”

For what it’s worth, the Nationscape data since the beginning of the year has Trump only up by a single point in Texas!

Teixeira: Biden Bolshevism Watch

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

It’s really very simple: If elected, Biden will govern from the center of the Democratic party. And the center has moved left.

“[I]f Biden is elected in November, the left may get a presidency it likes after all — or at least one it hates less than anticipated. The coronavirus outbreak and the resulting massive surge in unemployment has moved American political discourse to the left: Ideas that would have been considered too liberal for most Democrats a few months ago are now being proposed by Republicans. And if American politics is moving left, expect Biden to do the same. Biden was often cast as a centrist or a moderate during the Democratic primaries, but those labels don’t really describe his politics that well — he doesn’t really seem to have any kind of set ideology at all.

Instead, Biden’s long record in public office suggests that he is fairly flexible on policy — shifting his positions to whatever is in the mainstream of the Democratic Party at a given moment. So if Biden wins the presidency and his fellow Democrats are still clamoring for more government spending to help the pandemic recovery, Biden is likely to be a fairly liberal president, no matter how moderate he sounded in the primaries….

It’s hard to measure the precise center of American politics and how it has changed over the last few months. But it’s certainly moved left in response to the COVID-19 crisis — toward way more federal spending….Mirroring the shift in his party, Biden and his advisers are now reimagining his candidacy and presidency — rolling out more liberal policy plans, speaking in increasingly populist terms and joining forces with the most progressive voices in the party. Biden himself has invoked the idea that he might be entering the Oval Office facing a crisis on the scale of the Great Depression.”

Teixeira: But 2016! Clinton Was Ahead Too!

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

It is true that Clinton polled mostly ahead of Trump in the 2016 election campaign, yet still lost the election. It is also true that Biden, while ahead of Trump in the polls today, could still lose to Trump this year even if he stays ahead in the polls all the way to election day.

But it is not true that Biden is in exactly the same situation as Clinton was in 2016. No, his situation is better and here’s why as explained by Harry Enten.

“Almost any time I explain that Biden’s leading Trump, someone will inevitably bring up “but what about 2016.” That’s why this week marks an important milestone for the Biden campaign.

It’s one of the first times during the election year that Biden was clearly running ahead of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 pace in the matchup against Trump.

Four years ago, Trump closed the national gap quickly with Clinton as he was vanquishing Republican rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich from the presidential race. Clinton’s average lead shrank from 10 points during the first half of April to 6 points in the second half in April to 4 points in the first half in May to a mere 1 point in polls completed four years ago between May 16-May 23….

Although Clinton would regain some of her advantage in June 2016, the fact that the race became so close at this point four years ago was an indication that the electorate was somewhat unsettled. It showed that under the right circumstances, Clinton could lose nationally, or, at the very least, that Trump could come close enough nationally to win in the electoral college….

Biden’s lead, of course, is the steadiest of all time. His lead has never fallen to just a point or anywhere close. It’s been consistently at or right around 6 points, as it was this week. If you were to create a 95% confidence interval around the individual 2016 and 2020 polls, the 2016 race was about 1.5 times as volatile up to this point.

But it’s not just the margin that is important to examine. Look at the vote percentages.

The reason Biden’s lead is so wide compared to Clinton’s is that he’s running a little more than 5 points ahead of where Clinton was in terms of vote percentage. Biden is at slightly greater than 48%, while Clinton was a little less than 43%.

Even when Clinton’s lead widened in June, she never got to 48% in the polls. She had to pick up a lot more late-deciding voters for her lead to feel secure than Biden will likely need to.”

2020 is not 2016. Biden is not Clinton. And the differences between the two situations and candidates mostly help the Democrats. This is worth keeping in mind the next time you hear “But 2016!”

Teixeira: Trump’s Swing State Blues

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

Below I show the results (for the 20 most competitive states) of G. Elliott Morris’ “toy model” that integrates national and state polling with some regression analysis to give an idea of how the election is shaping up in each state in the country.

As you can see, the model implies that Trump is in deep trouble, behind in enough states to give Biden an easy win with other states like GA, OH, IA and TX either tied or very close.

Evan Scrimshaw of Decision Desk HQ reviews the latest data and sees the same kind of electoral landscape. His assessment of Trump’s troubles vis a vis Biden I largely agree with and I’ll quote it here.

“The Democrats have the upper hand across enough states to comfortably win the Electoral College, and the Midwest would be back to Obama 2012 levels of relative partisanship. For Joe Biden to be able to pull this off is a testament to his specific popularity with voters who don’t have a degree, and a sign that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was a specific turnoff for those voters who populate the legion of counties and Congressional Districts that flipped from Obama to Trump. It makes sense why that would be, too – her campaign was frequently about social issues which mattered to young progressives but not to the overwhelmingly older constituency who don’t have degrees. Biden, in contrast, is running a tight ship where he says little and doesn’t allow himself to take too many questions where troubling issues can come up. As of now, it’s working, with Quinnipiac polling this week showing Biden up 10% with seniors and 11% Nationally. For Trump, those numbers need to start reversing fast.

If Trump can’t eat into Biden’s lead with older voters and can’t stretch his non-college white lead back to Clinton levels, it’s over. Older people vote, and the suburban voters who broke for Trump in 2016 because they disliked both candidates aren’t coming back. Trump was able to squeeze out his narrow win because he got more Obama-Trump voters in exurbia than Hillary got Romney-Clinton voters in suburbia, and right now that trick isn’t repeating itself. He’s bleeding Obama-Trump voters back to Biden while the slow march of Romney voters in the suburbs continues unabated.

The President is now more than one usual polling error away from re-election, meaning he needs to do some work just to get back to the 30-70 underdog Nate Silver had him at in 2016. Even if the LeanTossup Presidential Model is aggressive in some states, namely Texas and Georgia, Trump is still in a very real mess in the upper Midwest, North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona. It’s hard to see the strategy that can flip back suburban Maricopa County, Arizona while not costing the President his huge margins in rural Wisconsin or southwest Pennsylvania. If he goes in on the culture wars, he may claw back non-degree holders with socially conservative views in some areas, but that won’t solve the problems in the suburbs of Phoenix and Atlanta. Go in on a tax cut for the well off and you give up a lot of your claim to be a different Republican who cares for real America.”

Oxford Economics Election Model: Trump Will Lose in Landslide

“President Donald Trump is headed for a historic defeat, according to a new election model released by an organization with a strong track record of predicting presidential elections,” Tim Darnell reports at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Because of the coronavirus’ hugely negative impact on the U.S. economy, Oxford Economics’ latest election model predicts Trump will only win 35% of the popular vote in November.”

Darnell notes further, “With the economy still suffering from the global coronavirus recession in early fall, our state-based and national election models both anticipate President Donald Trump will lose the popular vote,” the U.K.-based global forecasting organization said Wednesday. “An unemployment rate above its global financial crisis peak, household income nearly 6 percent below its pre-virus levels, and transitory deflation will make the economy a nearly insurmountable obstacle for Trump come November.”

Matt Egan notes at CNN Business that “The model, which uses unemployment, disposable income and inflation to forecast election results, predicts that Trump will lose in a landslide, capturing just 35% of the popular vote. That’s a sharp reversal from the model’s pre-crisis prediction that Trump would win about 55% of the vote. And it would be the worst performance for an incumbent in a century.”

Egan adds, “The national election model assumes that the economy is still in bad shape this fall, with unemployment above 13%, real per capita incomes down nearly 6% from a year ago and brief period of falling prices, or deflation….”The economy would still be in a worse state than at the depth of the Great Depression…It would take nothing short of an economic miracle for pocketbooks to favor Trump,” the Oxford report said.

Further, “A separate state-based election model run by Oxford Economics that incorporates local economic trends and gasoline prices predicts Trump will badly lose the electoral college by a margin of 328 to 210. That model forecasts that seven battleground states will flip to Democrats: Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri and North Carolina…”We would expect these states to experience significant economic contractions and traumatic job losses that would likely swing pocketbook vote,” the report said.”

This model has an impressive track record. According to CNN, it has “correctly predicted the popular vote in every election since 1948 other than 1968 and 1976,” notes Darnell.

The forecasting model’s metrics incude unemployment, disposable income and inflation. However, Egan reports, “Oxford Economics said that its models have “inherent limitations,” including the fact that they exclude noneconomic factors such as a candidate’s agenda or likeability.” Further, “the models don’t account for potential shifts in the pandemic. And this election may be a referendum on Trump’s handling of the crisis.” Greg Valliere, chief US policy strategist at AGF Investments said, “If new infections really pick up, people will conclude Trump opened the country too soon…But if new infections drop, Trump will get some credit.”

“Another wildcard is how the pandemic impacts voter turnout,” Egan adds. “Strong turnout for Democrats could cause Trump to lose Florida, Texas, Arizona, Tennessee and Georgia, Oxford Economics said. But weak Democratic turnout, along with a sharper economic recovery, could give Trump a “razor-thin” electoral college victory, the report said.”

In addition, “Users on PredictIt, a prediction platform, give Trump a 50% chance of winning reelection. That’s up from 45% in mid-March. The betting odds also solidly favor Trump, according to an average compiled by RealClearPolitics.”

Linkon and Russo: Deindustrialization as a Template for COVID-19

The following article, by Sherry Linkon and John Russo of Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, is cross-posted from Working-Class Perspectives:

As we wrote in Steeltown USA: Work and Memory in Youngstown, Youngstown’s story is America’s story. That’s true now as we try to imagine American life after the pandemic. No doubt, coronavirus is a natural disaster that is more contagious, widespread, and deadly than the economic disaster of deindustrialization. But the struggles that Youngstown and similar Rust Belt cities faced after the plant closings of the late 1970s offer a stark warning: the economic crash hitting so many Americans now will have long-term costs. Youngstown’s story also makes clear that we can’t rely on private enterprise or individual effort to fix things.

As leaders debate when and how to reopen the American economy, some have warned that the economic crisis will lead to as many deaths as COVID-19. Our research on the social costs of deindustrialization suggests that although this economic displacement is not as lethal as the virus itself, if not adequately addressed, it will indeed cost lives. After deindustrialization left thousands without jobs, heart disease, strokes, and cancer rates increased in places like Youngstown.

So did mental health problems. A lost job doesn’t just mean lost wages, homelessness, or hunger – important as those material realities are. Laid-off workers also lose important networks and routines. For many, losing a job also means losing a sense of purpose and identity. Combine anxiety, isolation, and self-doubt with fear about an uncertain future, and it’s no wonder so many become depressed or seek relief from drugs or alcohol. As Anne Case and Angus Deaton’s by now familiar study of “deaths of despair” has shown, an uptick in alcoholism, addiction, and depression in the early 1980s eventually become an epidemic of disease, overdoses, and suicides.

Teixeira: How Far Ahead Is Biden?

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

Biden has been doing well in the polls, both national and state-level. Indeed the latter polls suggest Biden may be running even farther ahead nationally than we thought. That is Harry Enten’s argument in his latest CNN column.

“One of the big questions when we look at national polls is whether or not they’re an accurate representation of what is going on at the state level. One of the easiest ways to check is to compare state poll results to the past presidential vote in a given state. I did so for all telephone polls that called cell phones since the beginning of April.

When we average out these state polls, they suggest that Biden’s running about 6 points ahead of Hillary Clinton’s final margin.

In other words, the state level polls suggest that Biden has a national lead of around 8 points.

That’s actually a little greater than the 6.6 points Biden has in the high quality national polling average taken during the same period….

Additionally, we can look at states we expect to be at least somewhat competitive (i.e. those where the margin was within 10 points last time) and those that we don’t think will be close in 2020.

In the competitive states (where most of the state polling has been conducted), there has been an average swing of 6 points toward Biden compared to Clinton’s 2016 result. The same is true in the non-competitive states….

At least from this state level data, it does not seem that either candidate is running up the score disproportionately in areas that were already friendly to him….

We can test our data, too, to see what would happen if the polls are underestimating Trump like they did in 2016.

What I found was Biden would still be ahead, even with a 2016 sized mishap…..Concentrating on just the competitive states, the polls undersold Trump by 2 points (RealClearPolitics) or 3 points (FiveThirtyEight). If the polls in the competitive states were off by as much as they were at the end in 2016, Biden would still be ahead in states like Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania.”

The latter is a key point. At the moment Biden is running far enough ahead that even if the polls were off in a similar way to 2016, he would still win the electoral college.

I would also add that Enten’s higher estimate of Biden’s national lead is consistent with the lead we are seeing in the 85,000+ interview conducted by Nationscape since the beginning of the year.