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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Teixeira: How Trump Could Win

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

He is still the incumbent and the economy is still pretty good. So those are advantages. But I think the biggest problem for the Democrats is that they may not run a very smart campaign. In fact, it seems a distinct possibility that they will run a dumb one. Martin Longman at the Washington Monthly points this out in a good piece that echoes some of my arguments and adds some interesting observations concerning the two parties’ coalitions:

“The Democrats have basically substituted their farmer/labor alliance for an urban/suburban one, and it may work out as a nearly even trade in the raw numbers but it has exacerbated the problem of having most of their votes concentrated into small areas while also creating an Electoral College challenge (see 2016).

The flip side of the Republicans losing all their moderates is that the Democrats are now living in a bubble. What they see as obvious is not obvious in most congressional districts. What they see as virtuous is not necessarily seen as virtuous, patriotic, or even sane in most congressional districts.

They are creating two problems for themselves. The first is a possible repeat of 2016, where they become perceived as so out of touch with the values and concerns of small-town and rural Americans that even a ridiculous man like Donald Trump seems highly preferable. The second is that they’re beginning to stress their suburban support with some of their policies, and the only way to offset rural losses is to do even better in the suburbs than they did four years ago. If Trump does as well or even better in his base areas than he did in 2016, and the Democrats do not improve on their suburban numbers, then the president will almost surely be reelected….

[Trump] does have a strategy and the strategy is correctly calibrated for the task at hand. He must racialize the electorate to maximize his vote in heavily-white communities and tap a wedge in between the urban and suburban Democrats so that the latter will defect in sufficient numbers for him to recover his losses. His problem is that efforts to maximize his white vote actually have the effect of pushing urban and suburban Democrats into a closer alliance. For this reason, he will fail unless the Democrats help ramp up his base numbers and depress their own.

This is where policies like free health care for undocumented people or abolishing all private health insurance are going to do damage. These things are not popular in general and are especially unpopular with the Democrats’ suburban base. A lot of the Democrats’ rhetoric on border issues is toxic not just in the sticks but also in the communities ringing our cities.

So, yes, the Democrats really could blow this election by running a non-strategic campaign based on abstract values against a campaign that is laser-focused on just the voters it needs to win.

This isn’t an argument for changing values, but it is an argument for not being too stupid to beat a man like Donald Trump.”

This is all well-put and, like the prospect of a hanging, should concentrate the mind. I should add that Longman does not say he thinks Trump is likely to pull this off–merely that it is a distinct possibility given how most Democratic candidates are currently handling themselves.

I continue to hope for an outbreak of political common sense. Don’t let Biden–a flawed candidate to be sure–have this “lane” all to himself!

Teixeira: It’s the Salience, Stupid!

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

I thought this was a very interesting essay from Sheri Berman on the Social Europe site. While her essay is focused on Europe I think there are some very clear lessons here for the left in the United States.

“Rather than rising numbers of immigrants or increasingly negative attitudes towards them, what seems to contribute most to populism’s success is the centrality of immigration to political competition. During much of the postwar period, political competition in Europe pivoted primarily around economic issues, and so voters who had conservative social views (for example, many members of the working class) didn’t vote on the basis of them. Over recent decades, however, political competition has increasingly focused on social issues such as immigration and national identity, leading voters to be more likely to vote on that basis.

When concerns about immigration are at the forefront of debate—in political-science terms, when immigration’s salience is high—the populist right benefits. This is because in most European countries right-populist parties now ‘own’ this issue: they are most associated with it and their voters are united in their views about it (whereas the left’s voting constituency is divided between social conservatives and social progressives). That populists benefit when the salience of social issues such as immigration is high explains why they spend so much time trying to keep such issues at the forefront of debate: demonising immigrants, spreading ‘fake news‘ about them and so on….

Parties succeed when the issues on which they have an advantage are at the forefront of debate: populists do well when attention is focused on immigration, green parties do well when attention is focused on the environment and social-democratic parties do well when attention is focused on economic issues and, in particular, on the downsides of capitalism and unregulated markets—assuming they have something distinctive and attractive to offer on the economic front. (This has not been the case for many social-democratic parties for too long but many authors at Social Europe are trying to rectify that.)

What the Danish elections should remind us is that politics is largely a struggle over agenda-setting. Defeating populism requires removing the issues on which populism thrives from the forefront of debate. But for the social-democratic left to succeed, it must do more than neutralise the fears populists exploit. It must also focus attention on the myriad economic problems facing our societies—and convince voters it has the best solutions to them.”

Food for thought.

Brownstein: How Dems Navigate the Politics of Health Security for Immigrants

In his article, “The Democrats’ Gamble on Health Care for the Undocumented” at The Atlantic, Ronald Browstein writes:

Anxiety spiked among many centrist Democrats when all 10 presidential candidates at a recent debate raised their hand, as if pledging allegiance, to declare they would support providing health care to undocumented immigrants…Led by Senator Bernie Sanders, nearly a half-dozen 2020 Democrats have embraced a clear position of offering full access to health-care benefits. Others, including former Vice President Joe Biden, the nominal front-runner, oppose full benefits, although that wasn’t apparent at the debate. The latter group would allow undocumented immigrants to purchase coverage through the exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act, but only with their own money. That approach would cover far fewer people, but also potentially create much less exposure to Republican counterattacks.

Regarding the scale of the actual problem, Brownstein notes:

This debate affects millions of people. The Kaiser Family Foundation, using census data, has estimated that 47 percent of the country’s roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants are uninsured, compared with one-fourth of legally present immigrants and about one-tenth of American citizens. Similarly, the Urban Institute places the number of uninsured undocumented immigrants at nearly 4.9 million , or about one-sixth of the total population of uninsured people in America.

There is a strong case for insuring immigrants, as Brownstein explains:

The case for expanding their health-care access rests on financial, public-health, and moral arguments. Supporters contend that it’s cheaper to provide access to medical care up front, rather than deal with health crises in emergency rooms; that allowing the undocumented to go untreated increases health risks for legal residents who come in contact with them; and that it is unjust to let people face health threats without care, regardless of their status.

Put another way, contagious diseases don’t care about your citizenship status. But health secuirity for immigrants is not an easy sell, As Brownstein observes:

Emergency rooms must provide aid to all who need it. But polls have consistently found that most Americans resist offering public benefits to the undocumented beyond that. In a recent CNN survey, Americans by a solid 3–2 margin said that “health insurance provided by the government” should not be available to immigrants here illegally. The idea faced resistance across a wide array of constituencies, including several that Democrats rely on: Just over half of college-educated white voters, half of young adults ages 18 to 34, and more than two-fifths of nonwhites said they opposed providing coverage for the undocumented. At the same time, three-fifths of voters who identified as Democrats or lean Democratic said they support the idea.

Brownstein highlights the moderate approach outlined by some Democratic presidential candidates, which may be the safest position for Democrats who want to win the support of persuadable voters:

Three years later, the current slate of candidates seem to have significant differences in how they would treat the undocumented, even if, as a group, they have moved beyond the Obama administration’s more cautious position on the ACA. Biden and Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, both of whom raised their hand at the debate last month, are taking a similar position to House Democrats’ in 2009 and Clinton’s in 2016: In addition to opening the ACA exchanges to the undocumented, they would also allow them to buy into the new public insurance option they would create through an expanded Medicare system. But they would still deny the undocumented any public assistance. Biden, in his CNN interview, put greater emphasis on expanding federally funded community-health clinics as a means of delivering more health care to undocumented immigrants than he has on offering them insurance.

Other presidential candidates, however, are making cases for complete coverage for undocumented immigrants in the U.S.:

At the other pole of the debate is Sanders’s Medicare for All proposal, which would entitle the undocumented to the same health-care services as anyone else in America. The actual language of the bill is less definitive: It says that while “every individual who is a resident of the United States is entitled to benefits for health care services under this Act,” the federal government will promulgate regulations for “determining residency for eligibility purposes.” But in response to a health-care questionnaire from The New York Times, Sanders unequivocally included the undocumented in his system: “Medicare for All means just that: all. Bernie’s plan would provide coverage to all U.S. residents, regardless of immigration status,” his campaign wrote.

In response to my questions, the campaigns of Senators Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Cory Booker of New Jersey said they would provide full benefits to the undocumented; so would former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg made a passionate case for covering the uninsured during last month’s debate, but his campaign would not specify his exact plan for doing so, particularly whether he would subsidize coverage with public dollars. Former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas likewise would not nail down his position on that point.

There is no doubt that the Republicans will demogogue the issue to portray all Democrats as spendthrift politicians who are ‘soft on illegals.’ Democratic candidates, not just presidential hopefuls, but all candidates for the Senate and House, should get to work on soundbites, tweets and short comments to support their positions on health care for undocumented immigrants, and portray the GOP as irresponsible advocates of public health chaos. Meanwhile, now would be a good time to collect data showing that health care protection for these immigrants would be a cost-effective investment in protecting the public as a whole from unnecessary illnesses.

Teixeira: The Turnout Myth

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

No myth is stronger in left-progressive circles than the magical, wonder-working powers of turnout. It’s become this sort of pixie dust that you sprinkle over your strenuously progressive positions to brush aside any questions of negative electoral effects from such positions. This quote from Saikat Chakrabarti, AOC;s chief of staff, encapsulates the theory of the case so many progressives hold dear.

“[W]e’ve got a completely different theory of change, which is: You do the biggest, most badass thing you possibly can — and that’s going to excite people, and then they’re going to go vote. Because the reality is, our problem isn’t that more people are voting Republican than Democrat — our problem is most people who would vote Democrat aren’t voting.”

This view, despite how much it warms of the hearts of many progressive activists, has remarkably little empirical support. Take 2018. Turnout in that election was outstanding and the demographic composition of the electorate came remarkably close to that of a Presidential election year. This was due to fewer Presidential dropoff voters and more midterm surge voters.

But despite this stellar turnout performance, the overwhelming majority of the Democrats’ improved performance came not from less Presidential dropoff and more midterm surge but rather from voters who voted in both elections and switched their votes from Republican in 2016 to Democratic in 2018. When I say “overwhelming” I mean it: The Democratic big data firm Catalist– whose data on 2018 are the best available–estimates that 89 percent of the Democrats’ improved performance came from persuasion–from vote-switchers–not turnout.

Or take 2016. Analysis using States of Change data indicates that, even if black turnout in that election had matched turnout in 2012, Clinton would have lost the election anyway. On the other hand, if she had merely managed to reduce her losses among white noncollege voters by one-quarter she’d be President today.

But perhaps 2020 will be different, if Democrats can just get nonvoters to the polls in large enough numbers. Then Democrats won’t have to worry about persuading Obama-Trump voters or any other voters in the much-derided “swing” category. Wrong! Nate Cohn of the Times brings a massive amount of data to bear on this question and finds the following:

“The 2020 presidential election is poised to have the highest turnout in a century, with the potential to reshape the composition of the electorate in a decisive way.

But perhaps surprisingly, it is not obvious which party would benefit. There are opportunities and risks for both parties, based on an Upshot analysis of voter registration files, the validated turnout of 50,000 respondents to The New York Times/Siena College pre-election surveys in 2018, census data, and public polls of unregistered voters.

It is commonly assumed that Democrats benefit from higher turnout because young and nonwhite and low-income voters are overrepresented among nonvoters. And for decades, polls have shown that Democrats do better among all adults than among all registered voters, and better among all registered voters than among all actual voters.

But this longstanding pattern has become more complicated in the Trump years. The president is strong among less educated white voters, who are also overrepresented among nonvoters….

Nationwide, the longstanding Republican edge in the gap between registered and actual voters all but vanished in 2018, even though young and nonwhite voters continued to vote at lower rates than older and white voters.

At the same time, the president’s white working-class supporters from 2016 were relatively likely to stay home. Voters like these are likeliest to return to the electorate in 2020, and it could set back Democrats in crucial battleground states….A large increase in voter registration would do much more to hurt the president in the national vote than in the Northern battleground states, where registration is generally high and where people who aren’t registered are disproportionately whites without a college degree….

The voters who turned out in 2016, but stayed home in 2018, were relatively favorable to Mr. Trump, and they’re presumably more likely to join the electorate than those who turned out in neither election. In a high-turnout election, these Trump supporters could turn out at a higher rate than the more Democratic group of voters who didn’t vote in either election, potentially shifting the electorate toward the president…..”

Cohn’s bottom line:

“The danger for Democrats is that higher turnout would do little to help them in the Electoral College if it did not improve their position in the crucial Midwestern battlegrounds. Higher turnout could even help the president there, where an outsize number of white working-class voters who back the president stayed home in 2018, potentially creating a larger split between the national vote and the Electoral College in 2020 than in 2016.

There’s nothing about the composition of nonvoters that means a higher-turnout election would invariably make it easier for Democrats to win the presidency, or for Republicans to keep it.”

This makes clear the embedded assumption of the turnout-will-solve-everything crowd. If we polarize the election around our progressive issues, all of our nonvoters will show up at the polls but none of the nonvoters from the other side will. That is truly magical thinking. Democrats who want to win in 2020 should–must–discard this view.

Galston: How to Make Sense of Post-Debate ‘Polling Anarchy’

Brookings Senior Fellow William A. Galston, author of “Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy” and other works of political science, explains “What we know after the first Democratic debate“:

In the wake of the first Democratic debates, polling anarchy has erupted. There have been six post-debate surveys. Three place support for Joe Biden, the putative leader of the pack, in the low 20s with other candidates nipping at his heels. Three others put him at 30 percent or above, with a comfortable lead over his challengers. Differences in timing and methodology may explain part of this disagreement, but not all.

One common way to make sense out of disparate polls is simply to average the results, on the theory that the average is likely to be closer to reality than any single poll. For what it’s worth, this technique produces the following post-debate standings:

Polling Average
Biden 27
Sanders 15
Harris 15
Warren 15
Buttigieg 5

However, Galston writes, “A safer strategy is to look at the direction of change in order to get a sense of the pre-debate/post-debate dynamics.” He adds that “There’s no doubt that Biden has taken a hit, Kamala Harris has surged, Bernie Sanders has fallen back a bit, Elizabeth Warren is somewhat stronger, and the bloom is off Pete Buttigieg’s rose…”

Scrutinizing an average of two Iowa polls, Galson notes finds that Harris is the clear winner, with a +10 net change, compared to -1 for Warren, -3 for Biden, -7 for Buttigieg and -10 for Bernie Sanders. “These data suggest that Biden suffered a flesh wound rather than a mortal injury during the first debate and that Harris’s surge came mostly at the expense of candidates other than Biden,” concludes Galston.

Galston also cites a FiveThirtyEight/Morning Consult poll comparing the views of debate watchers with those who only watched post-debate media coverage and debate clips. Biden did slightly worse with debate watchers, while Harris did about 9 points better with those who watched the debates, than with those who didn’t watch debates. Sanders and Warren did nearly the same withj both groups. Ditto for Buttigieg, Castro, Boooker and O’Rourke, while “no other candidates moved the needle, one way or the other.”

Asked “Aside from the candidate you support, which candidates do you most want to hear more about?” before and after the deabtes by CNN’s survey team, respondents gave Castro a +13 increase, with +7 for Harris, +6 for Buttigieg, +4 for Warren and +2 for Booker.

Galston notes also that, in a post-debate Iowa poll, Harris scored a +45 on the “Who did better than you expected?” question, followed by Castro’s +26, Buttigieg’s +17, Warren’s +14, and Booker’s +8. Biden suffered the biggest hit, with -33, followed by Sanders (-19) and O’Rourke (-13).

Regarding ‘electability,’ Galston writes that “In the most recent Gallup survey, electability beats issue agreement, 58 percent to 39 percent; CNN puts it at 61-30, and Economist/YouGov at 66-34.” Galston provides this chart for assessing Biden’s lead in electability:

Best chance of beating Trump First choice for the nomination Gap
Quinnipiac 42 22 20
CNN 43 22 21
ABC/WP 45 30 15

Galston also shares a chart for the Economist/YouGov survey, which asks respondents to evaluate the top four candidates’s chances vs. President Trump. The results:

Will probably defeat Trump Will probably lose to Trump
Biden 62 16
Harris 50 20
Buttigieg 32 27
Warren 29 44

Looking a registered voters as a whole, Galston highlights the results of from an ABC/Washington Post survey released July 7, which has Biden beating Trump by 10 points, compared to m.o.e. ties with Trump for Warren, Buttigieg, Sanders and Harris.

However, notes Galston, “Seasoned observers will take these results with a healthy pinch of salt. Early in 1983, a survey showed Walter Mondale leading Ronald Reagan by 12 percentage points, and the former vice president still led, by a smaller margin, as late as September of the pre-election year. History records what happened next.” He concludes that Biden “remains the man to beat—which is not to say that he cannot be beaten.”

Teixeira: Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who”s the Most Electable of Them All?

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

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who”s the Most Electable of Them All?

As much as many wish to resist the obvious answer to this question, it is Biden. Josh Marshall has a good piece on TPM pointing this out.

“I want to separate here what you may think of Joe Biden and his candidacy and fairly extensive data we have on his relative strength vs Trump. There are a lot of people out there insisting that Biden will be a general election trainwreck for the Democrats…But you simply cannot make this claim about Biden being a weak general election candidate without grappling with the fact that basically every poll for months shows that he is significantly stronger than every other Democrat up against Trump….

To state the obvious, none of this means Democrats have to support Biden. Even this relatively negative poll shows the others very much in contention. But wishful thinking won’t change the fact that the evidence we have to date shows Biden, whatever his faults, is the strongest challenger.”

Note that this poll, despite the wide lead for Biden, is actually pretty close to his average lead over Trump (9 points in the RCP running average). Harris, Warren and Sanders are bit low relative to their averages, but their pattern of underperforming Biden has been consistent.

Why is this? Why does run so strongly against Trump. Well, the Post has not released the crosstabs from this poll but the general pattern from other polls has been clear: it’s those pesky white noncollege voters who are much more willing to vote for Biden than for the other candidates. And it is those voters, of course, who are likely to decide the Democratic candidate’s fate in the vital Rustbelt states of MIchigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

A final word on “electability”. A common response to these kind of data is to entirely deny the relevance of the electability concept to current candidate assessment. It’s too hard to predict accurately who will run well in a general election context so we shouldn’t try. But that defaults to an implicit assumption that all candidates are equally electable, which makes no sense. Voters will and should make a judgement about electability and they will and should available data to do so. Ruling the question out of order is a cop-out.

A related claim is that candidates may not be equally electable now but once nominated they will become so as voters come to see them as viable. No doubt there can be a validation effect here but to assume that will overcome all apparent differences in electoral appeal strikes me as delusional.

Like it or not, electability counts and right now Biden appears to have more of it than the other candidates.

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Teixeira: The Diverse White Working Class

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

The Diverse White Working Class

By which I mean: this vast demographic contains multitudes. Far from a seething cauldron of nativist sentiment, there is a wide array of political sensibilities among this group and plenty of room for Democrats to make–and keep–gains. Tom Edsall’s recent column lays out some interesting data that makes this point.

How to make these gains? Hint: not by decriminalizing the border, not through Medicare for All that abolishes private health care plans; not by providing health coverage to undocumented immigrants and other similar–and similarly unpopular-ideas. The obvious answer is programs that are popular both with Democrats’ base voters and with significant sectors of the white working class. As Edsall notes, channeling the views of many Democratic leaders, both black and white:

“The concerns of African-Americans, in this view, are substantially the same as the concerns of the millions of white working class voters who remain open to Democratic candidates — or at least they coincide in critically important ways.

The fate of the Democratic Party in 2020 hangs on this premise and on a united resistance to Trump’s malign strategy of divide and conquer.”

This viewpoint may sound old-fashioned. But it also happens to be correct.

Teixeira: Fearless Forecasting Department: Democrats Win in 2020?

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

I don’t know how many are familiar with Rachel Bitecofer of Christopher Newport University and her forecasting models. I did feature them in some posts in the runup to the 2018 election. To Bitecofer’s credit, her model, which is based on the predictive value of negative partisanship in the current environment, did perform very well indeed in 2018, predicting both the number and location of the seats flipped very accurately.

Well, she’s out early with a prediction for the 2020 general election and it’s worth checking out. Of course, any one model should be treated with caution, no matter how accurate it has recently been. And I have some questions about her analysis, which comes perilously close to saying it doesn’t really matter whom the Democrats nominate. But here’s her bottom line:

“Barring a shock to the system, Democrats recapture the presidency. The leaking of the Trump campaign’s internal polling has somewhat softened the blow of this forecast, as that polling reaffirms what my model already knew: Trump’s 2016 path to the White House, which was the political equivalent of getting dealt a Royal Flush in poker, is probably not replicable in 2020 with an agitated Democratic electorate. And that is really bad news for Donald Trump because the Blue Wall of the Midwest was then, and is now, the ONLY viable path for Trump to win the White House.”

In terms of the map, her model predicts that the Rustbelt three of MI, PA and WI will all move back to the Democrats. AZ, FL, IA and NC are seen as toss-ups. All states Democrats took in 2016 remain Democratic.

Could be. These new data from Morning Consult certainly suggest the model predictions are plausible.

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Teixeira: Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory?

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

Well, the first Democratic debates are now in the rear-view mirror, so I suppose I should write a few words about What It All Means.

First, on the Democratic horse race, which preoccupies many of us. It’s clear Kamala Harris helped herself quite a bit in terms of visibility and has seen an uptick in the polls. In the Morning Consult (MC) post-debate poll, she is on 12 percent as a first choice for Democratic voters, tied for third place with Elizabeth Warren.

But the basic structure of the race has not decisively changed (though of course it may down the line). Biden is on 33 percent, far in the lead, albeit down 5 points from pre-debate levels, while Harris is up 5 points to the aforementioned 12 percent. Sanders and Warren basically held steady. It’s also worth mentioning that Biden’s very high favorability rating barely budged as a result of the debate.

Harris is already experiencing a bit of blowback, including from some black politicians, for her premeditated hit on an incredibly divisive issue that left politicians like Biden struggling for political survival. The idea that Biden’s actions reveal him as some kind of racist is a hard sell. On the other hand, the idea that Biden isn’t ready for the kind of brutal attacks that Republicans and Trump will launch at him, should he be the Democratic candidate, is a much easier sell. That in the end could be the most important result of Harris’ successful rhetorical strike.

The more consequential result of the debates may not be its effect on the race for the nomination but rather its effect on Democrats’ ability to beat Trump. Here the news is fairly grim I think. Trump is an unpopular President and quite beatable. But that requires you keep the election a referendum on him and not unpopular Democratic ideas.

I had a post awhile ago where I listed the “four don’ts” of the 2020 Democratic campaign. To refresh your memory, here they are:

1. Reparations for the descendants of slaves. Preferred: social programs that disproportionately benefit blacks because of their income, education or geographic attributes.
2. Abolish ICE. Preferred: Reforming ICE + a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants + an actual immigration policy that includes border security and policies about future immigration levels.
3. Medicare for All that eliminates private insurance. Preferred: Medicare for Anyone or Medicare for All (Who Want It). Currently embodied in the DeLauro-Schakowsky Medicare for America bill.
4. A Green New Deal that commits to 100 percent renewable energy within 10 years. Preferred: A Green New Deal that focuses on jobs, infrastructure, research and promoting clean energy in all forms.

In the Democratic debates, several candidates besides the expected Sanders screwed up on the second don’t on how to handle Medicare for All, most notably Warren, who had previously been fairly cagey in how she handled the issue. But she aggressively put herself on the side of abolishing private health insurance, an unpopular position which could weaponize the health care issue for Trump and sink a Democratic candidate. Harris also declared her support for this approach but then, hilariously, claimed the next day she had misunderstood the question. Nice try.

On the third don’t, abolishing ICE, technically no one called for it, but they did aggressively compete with one another on how leniently to deal with border issues. In their zeal to show how much they opposed Trump’s cruelty on the issue, many candidates signed onto the idea that illegal border crossing should be decriminalized. Like abolishing ICE, this will sound to many voters like open borders, which is a terrible position for Democrats to be in. Americans want their borders to be controlled, with limits on the amount of immigration and asylum-seeking. If Democrats have a humane and workable way to deal with these issues, voters need to hear this, rather than proposals that sound like calls for a much looser border.

On the first don’t, reparations, there wasn’t much talk about it. Possibly Harris might have talked about the issue but she had other plans. However, by bringing up the busing controversies of the 1970’s, it potentially injects another divisive racial issue into the campaign. There is nothing in public opinion that indicates re-litigating this controversy would be particularly helpful for the Democrats. Quite the opposite; the country has moved on from this approach to dealing with de facto school segregation, which was and is quite unpopular.

Now, I get that this is the nomination process and a candidate can conceivably tack back to the center in the general and recant or “clarify” their unpopular issue positions But that’s easier said than done. It is wiser to give your enemy as little ammunition as possible. I fear many Democratic candidates, including some of the most plausible nominees, are ignoring this stricture.

Teixeira: How Demographic Change Is Transforming the Republican and Democratic Parties

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

Our new State of Change report is out, covering demographic evolution of the parities at both the national and state level from 1980-2036! Among our findings:

“The parties were more compositionally different in 2016 than at any point in the prior 36 years. This election was the first presidential election white noncollege voters did not make up a plurality of both parties’ coalitions, with white college voters exceeding the share of white noncollege voters in the Democratic coalition.

Nonwhites will continue to grow as a share of both parties’ coalitions, especially Hispanics. We find that, by 2032, Hispanic voters will surpass black voters as the largest overall nonwhite voting group. And, by 2036, black voters will make up a larger share of the Democratic coalition than white noncollege voters.

On the other hand, we find that white voters will continue to decline through 2036 as a share of both the Republican and Democratic party coalitions, though this decline with be considerably quicker in fast-growing states such as Arizona and Texas that are already less white. White noncollege voters, in particular, are projected to decline rapidly as a share of both parties’ coalitions across all states through 2036, although the sharpest declines will, again, be in fast-growing states.

Generational changes will also be substantial. By 2036, Millennial and Generation Z voters—the two youngest generations—will be heavily represented in both the Democratic Party and Republican Party coalitions, while the influence of Baby Boomer and the Silent Generation voters—the two oldest generations—will radically decline. White Millennial and Generation Z voters, in particular, will develop a large presence in the Republican coalition and, combined with nonwhites, will give the GOP a new look in all states—even slow-growing ones such as Wisconsin and Ohio.

Finally, our data indicate that, while shifting turnout and support rates can be pivotal for winning elections, these changes are likely to have a relatively small impact on the overall makeup of the electorate and party coalitions in the future. Thus, most of the effect of demographic change on future party coalitions is already baked in and will reshape party coalitions—in a sense, whether these parties like it or not.”

Be the first kid on your block to read the whole report! You can also watch the event where we presented our report, as well as two papers taking off on our data from Republican and Democratic perspectives, at the link below (event starts around the 28th minute).