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Teixeira: The Most Important Question Dems Must Address

Can Sanders Beat Trump?

It is certainly possible. But that’s really not the right question. The right question is: how likely is it that Sanders would beat Trump if he were the nominee?

Jon Chait makes this point with admirable clarity in his latest column:

“The truth is we are all clueless about what voters want or will accept,” argues conventional-wisdom-monger Jim VandeHei, in a signal of how deeply the anti-probabilistic fallacy has spread. It is true that there is uncertainty attached to every outcome. The talking heads who guarantee Sanders will lose are wrong — any nominee might win, and in a polarized electorate, both parties have a floor of support that gives even the most toxic candidate a fighting chance. In 2016, Trump was the most unpopular candidate in the history of polling, but he squeaked into office because everything broke just right for him. It could happen for Bernie, too.

But to concede that we cannot be certain about the future does not mean we know nothing. An imperfect comparison might be to predicting the outcome of sporting events. You don’t know the outcome in advance, but it is usually possible to make probabilistic predictions. Those predictions are wrong all the time. But it would be silly to conclude that, just because upsets happen, every game should be treated as a coin flip. A huge amount of pro-Sanders commentary is based on simplistically conflating the correct claim that we lack perfect clarity with the incorrect claim that we have no clarity at all.”

With that in mind, what do we know that might shed light on how Sanders would do against Trump? First, of course, there is the trial heat polling. That polling, according to RCP averages, has Sanders and Biden running ahead of Trump nationally by essentially identical amounts and both ahead of other tested Democratic candidates.

The same pattern with Biden and Sanders relative to the other Democratic candidates can be seen in swing state polling, with the difference that Biden generally generally runs a little bit better than Sanders in most swing states. You can see this both in the RCP trial heat averages and in preliminary state-level breakdowns of the Voter Study Group Nationscape survey (more than 170,000 interviews so far, 6000 nespondents per week)

This suggests that both Sanders and Biden, neither of whom has name recognition problems, are currently capturing anti-Trump, pro-Democratic preferences fairly efficiently. Put another way, simply hearing their names and knowing who they are, does not, at this point, deter large numbers of respondents from expressing pro-Democratic sentiments.

But in a general election campaign, of course, the Trump campaign will be working strenuously to sow doubts about the Democratic candidate and convince undecided voters and those with soft Democratic preferences that Trump, whatever objections such voters may have to him, is by far the lesser evil when compared to the Democrat. This is where Sanders will run into trouble, since since he is poorly set up to parry such attacks among persuadable voters.

David Leonhardt summarizes his problem succinctly:

“[Sanders] has taken a nearly maximalist liberal position on every major issue. It’s especially striking from him, because he has shown over his career that he grasps the importance of building a coalition.

Sanders once won over blue-collar Vermonters with help from a moderate position on guns. “We need a sensible debate about gun control which overcomes the cultural divide that exists in this country,” he said in 2015, “and I think I can play an important role in this.” He was also once an heir to organized labor’s skepticism of large-scale immigration. “At a time when the middle class is shrinking, the last thing we need is to bring over in a period of years, millions of people into this country who are prepared to lower wages for American workers,” he said in 2007.

Now, though, Sanders has evidently decided that progressives will no longer accept impurities — or even much tactical vagueness. He, along with Elizabeth Warren, has embraced policies that are popular on the left and nowhere else: a ban on fracking; the decriminalization of border crossings; the provision of federal health benefits to undocumented immigrants; the elimination of private health insurance.

For many progressives, each of these issues has become a moral litmus test. Any restriction of immigration is considered a denial of human rights. Any compromise on guns or health care is an acceptance of preventable deaths.

And I understand the progressive arguments on these issues. But turning every compromise into an existential moral failing is not a smart way to practice politics. It comforts the persuaded while alienating the persuadable.

F.D.R. and Reagan understood this, as did Abraham Lincoln and many great social reformers, including Frederick Douglass, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez. Strong political movements can accept impurity on individual issues in the service of a larger goal: winning.”

That’s the nub of his problem right there. He really is extremely vulnerable to brutal attacks from his Republican opponent, which will require unusual deftness and savvy to counter successfully. So far, we haven’t seen a Sanders who seems capable of doing that.

Of course, Sanders does have a response to the potential difficulty summarized here: turnout, turnout, turnout! But as I and others have shown, this is a chimera. If Sanders is to beat Trump, he’ll have to it the old-fashioned way: convincing many voters who don’t adore him that he is indeed a superior choice when compared to Trump.

Who are these voters? Some clues may be found a recent piece by Patrick Ruffini based on Nationscape data. Ruffini finds that while both Biden and Sanders have solid leads over Trump in the national data, their coalitions are not identical. Specifically, Sanders does quite a bit better than Biden among young voters but lags seriously lags behind among voters over 45. And while Sanders is comparably strong among nonwhite voters and lags Biden only slightly among white noncollege voters, he trails Biden’s performance by 8 points among white college voters.

If Sanders is the nominee and wants to maximize his probability of beating Trump, he is going to have to face up to these difficulties. If not, I fear we’re in for a long and painful next four years.


Teixeira: On Trump’s Approval Rating

Is Trump’s Approval Rating Really Going Up?

I’ve written about this before but there are reasons to be skeptical that his remarkably stable approval ratings are suddenly headed upwards. The excellent G. Elliott Morris explains in The Economist.

“[E]ven after correcting for demographic biases, pollsters’ data can still be unrepresentative. They may have the right shares of Latino voters and boomers, but nevertheless have too many Republicans or Democrats. This concern is pronounced when an event causes especially good, or bad, news for a political party. At such times surveys can suddenly be swamped with partisans who are eager to voice their love, or hate, for the president.

In the wake of Mr Trump’s acquittal in the Senate, pollsters suspect that such a bias could be affecting polls. Courtney Kennedy, the director for survey research at the Pew Research Centre, says that there is a “strong possibility” that the recent uptick in Mr Trump’s ratings has a wave of optimistic Republicans as its source. She says that outlets can control this problem by adjusting their data to have the correct shares of Democratic- and Republican-leaning voters, but the idea is relatively new and few pollsters have data good enough to perform such corrections.

The Economist’s analysis of polls taken during Mr Trump’s impeachment proceedings affirms Ms Kennedy’s suspicion. In polls that weight their data to represent America’s partisan balance or the results of the 2016 election, the share of adults who approve of Mr Trump’s job as president has risen by half a percentage point since impeachment proceedings began in earnest last October. But in polls that do not, Mr Trump’s ratings have increased by over three percentage points.”

Now if we only had a candidate who could take advantage of the fact that Trump is still really, really unpopular and likely to remain so….


Teixeira: What If Everyone Voted? Be Careful What You Wish For!

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

I’ve questioned the wonder-working powers of high voter turnout before but, shockingly, not everyone has agreed. But here is some more evidence undercutting the more-turnout-will-solve-everything thesis from a massive study by the Knight Foundation.

There’s a great deal in their report, including a very interesting typology of nonvoters, both their characteristics and reasons for not voting, which suggest a complex phenomenon not reducible to voter suppression and/or insufficiently radical candidates.

But, regardless of motivation,what if all those nonvoters really did vote? Surely the Democrats would kick Trump’s ass back to Mar-a-Lago for good. Sorry, it’s not that simple, as the chart of key swing states below shows. Democrats would benefit some in the national popular vote but wouldn’t be helped sufficiently in the Electoral College to take Trump out.

If this doesn’t make you question the turnout mythology currently popular in Sanders wing of the Democratic party, I don’t know what will.


Teixeira: No, radical policies won’t drive election-winning turnout

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

No myth is stronger in progressive circles than the magical, wonderworking powers of voter turnout. It’s become a sort of pixie dust that you sprinkle over your strenuously progressive positions to ward off any suggestion that they might turn off voters. That is how Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), now the Democratic presidential front-runner, has dealt with criticism that his more unpopular stances — including eliminating private health insurance, decriminalizing the border and covering undocumented immigrants in a government health plan — might cost him the votes he needs to beat President Trump.

Sanders’s explanation of why this is not a problem is simple, and he has repeated it endlessly. When a member of the Los Angeles Times editorial board asked him whether “a candidate as far to the left as you” would “alienate swing voters and moderates and independents,” the senator replied: “The only way that you beat Trump is by having an unprecedented campaign, an unprecedentedly large voter turnout.” Faiz Shakir, Sanders’s campaign manager, adds: “Bernie Sanders has very unique appeal amongst [the younger] generation and can inspire, I think, a bunch of them to vote in percentages that they have never voted before.”

This has remarkably little empirical support. Take the 2018 midterm elections, in which the Democrats took back the House (a net 40-seat gain), carried the House popular vote by almost nine points and flipped seven Republican-held governorships. Turnout in that election was outstanding, topping 49 percent — the highest midterm turnout since 1914 and up 13 points over the previous midterm, in 2014 — and the demographic composition of the electorate came remarkably close to that of a presidential election year. (Typically, midterm voters tend to be much older and much whiter than those in presidential elections.) This was due both to fewer presidential “drop-off” voters (people who voted in 2016 but not 2018) and to more midterm “surge” voters (those who voted in 2018 but not 2016).

Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of the Democrats’ improved performance came not from fresh turnout of left-of-center voters, who typically skip midterms, but rather from people who cast votes in both elections — yet switched from Republican in 2016 to Democratic in 2018. The data firm Catalist, whose numbers on 2018 are the best available, estimates that 89 percent of the Democrats’ improved performance came from persuasion — from vote-switchers — not turnout. In its analysis, Catalist notes, “If turnout was the only factor, then Democrats would not have seen nearly the gains that they ended up seeing … a big piece of Democratic victory was due to 2016 Trump voters turning around and voting for Democrats in 2018.”

Crucially, Democrats in 2018, especially the successful ones, did not run on particularly radical programs but rather on opposition to Trump himself, and to unpopular GOP actions on economic policy and health care (tax cuts for the rich and efforts to repeal Obamacare’s protections, for example). In the end, the 2018 results do not support Sanders’s theories — not the central importance of high turnout, nor the supposed non-importance of changing mainstream voters’ minds, nor the most effective issues to run on.

Or take 2016. Many pundits, including Steve Phillips of Democracy in Color, have suggested that Hillary Clinton failed to inspire core Democratic voters — notably African Americans — and that a more progressive candidate would have done so (and won). “The Democratic Party’s fixation on pursuing those who voted for Mr. Trump is a fool’s errand,” Phillips wrote. But an analysis using data from the States of Change project, sponsored by, among others, the Brookings Institution and the Center for American Progress, indicates that, even if black turnout in the 2016 election had matched that of 2012 (it dropped from 62 to 57 percent), Clinton would have still lost. On the other hand, if she had managed to reduce her losses among white noncollege voters by a mere one-quarter, she’d be president today. That’s an issue of persuasion, not turnout.

What’s more, States of Change data does not suggest that youth turnout, which Sanders promises to increase so significantly, was a particular Democratic problem in 2016. In fact, young voters (ages 18 to 29) increased their turnout more than any other age group in that election, from 42 percent in 2012 to 44 percent in 2016. They also increased — if only slightly — their margin of support for the Democratic candidate. In 2016, the age cohort that really killed Democrats was voters ages 45 to 64, who had split evenly in 2012 but leaned Republican by six percentage points four years later. Sanders’s bouquet of unpopular positions hardly seems likely to help the Democrats make up ground among these voters.

But perhaps 2020 will be different if a Sanders candidacy can truly catalyze massive turnout. Then Democrats won’t have to worry about persuading Obama-Trump voters or anyone else in the “swing” category. Wrong!

As Nate Cohn of the New York Times has noted after scrutinizing the data, it’s a mistake to assume that Democrats would benefit disproportionately from high turnout. Trump is particularly strong among white noncollege voters, who dominate the pool of nonvoters in many areas of the country, including in key Rust Belt states. If the 2020 election indeed has historically high turnout, as many analysts expect, that spike could include many of these white noncollege voters in addition to Democratic-leaning constituencies such as nonwhites and young voters. The result could be an increase in Democrats’ popular-vote total — and another loss in the electoral college.

This analysis shreds an implicit assumption of Sanders and other members of the turnout-will-solve-everything crowd: that if they polarize the election by highlighting progressive issues, “their” nonvoters will show up at the polls, but none of the nonvoters from the other side will. That view is also contradicted by many political science studies. Stanford political scientists Andrew Hall and Daniel Thompson, for example, studied House races between 2006 and 2014 and found that highly ideological candidates who beat moderates for a party nomination indeed increased turnout in their own party in the general election — but they increased the opposition turnout even more. (The difference was between three and eight percentage points.) Apparently, their extreme political stances did more to turn out the other side to vote against them than to turn out their own side to vote for them.

The turnout equation does not necessarily return positive results for a candidate like Sanders. The reverse is more likely. It is truly magical thinking to believe that, in a highly polarized situation, only your side gets to increase turnout. And if the other side turns out in droves, you might not like the results — a warning Democrats would be wise to heed.


Metzgar: How Polarized Are We?

The following article by Jack Metzgar, is cross-posted from Working-class Perspectives:

When I talk with relatives who are not only Trump voters but Trump enthusiasts, I feel pretty damned polarized – especially when I lose my temper and find myself saying some of the things my tribe often hatefully says about theirs.  But as long as we don’t talk about abortion or gun control and tippy-toe carefully around immigration, we share a lot of common ground on a wide range of economic justice issues.  This broad agreement is reflected in survey research that almost never gets reported in the mainstream media.

Worse, that media seems completely unaware of any common ground.

One night during the impeachment trial coverage on MSNBC, for example, as the talking heads were marveling at polling results that showed more than 70% of people supported Democrats’ demands for new evidence and witnesses, Brian Williams quipped that this was astounding in a country that can’t agree that today is Thursday and tomorrow will be Friday.

The polarization around Trump is real, both intellectually and emotionally, but there are a whole bunch of people – not just the Russians and Trump – who have vested interests in keeping us ignorant of how much we agree with each other on economic justice.  It is, in fact, not at all unusual for some 70% of Americans to agree on:

  • Reducing inequality by creating a 2% wealth tax (70%)
  • Reducing poverty by “ensuring that all families have access to basic living standards such as health care, food, and housing if their wages are too low.” (72%)
  • Creating good jobs by “investing $1 trillion in our nation’s infrastructure, including . . . expanded production of clean energy.” (78%)
  • Capping prices on prescription drugs (81%), and
  • Allowing “people who don’t get health insurance through their employer to buy health insurance from a public plan.” (81%)


Political Strategy Notes

In his post, “Dems Should Temper Their disappointments” at The Cook Political Report, Charlie Cook shares a more hopeful perspective on the Iowa caucuses turnout:  “Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty, whom I think very highly of, wrote the other day that Democrats “should worry” about the “mediocre” turnout at the Iowa caucuses, it being roughly the same as the 170,000 who attended in 2016 but far less than the 240,000 from 2008, when Barack Obama won. Another word for the turnout might have been “normal.” We shouldn’t use as a baseline for comparison a caucus that had unprecedented turnout, featuring not only an electric candidate like Obama, but also Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, in a three-way photo finish instead of the two-way this year between Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.”

“Face it, Democrats,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his Washington Post column, “You are the diverse party and Republicans are the homogeneous party. Democrats include moderates and the left; Republicans are almost uniformly conservative. Among their elected officials, Democrats are the party of racial and gender diversity; Republicans aren’t. In the House, 37.9 percent of Democratic members are women, and 36.6 percent are African American or Latino. The numbers for the GOP: 6.6 percent women, 3.6 percent black or Latino.”

From Ruy Teixeira’s blog, The Optimistic Leftist: “Meanwhile, In Wisconsin – In the most recent Marquette Law School Wisconsin poll, Biden, who has been running the strongest of tested candidates in the state, was up on Trump by 4 points. That’s better than the December poll (a one point advantage) and the November poll (3 point deficit)…What’s Trump’s Achilles’ Heel in the state? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: white noncollege women. In a recent Global Strategy Group study, Trump’s net approval was +28 among white noncollege men and -2 among white noncollege women. Wow. That’s a really big difference. Leverage that difference and the Democratic candidate wins the state.”

Perry Bacon, Jr. notes in “Other Polling Nuggets” at FiveThirtyEight that “Only 45 percent of Americans say they will vote for a “‘well-qualified” candidate who is a socialist, according to new Gallup polling. More Americans say they would vote for a candidate who is an atheist (60 percent), a Muslim (66 percent), over the age of 70 (69), under 40 (70), gay or lesbian (78), an evangelical Christian (80), a woman (93), Jewish (93), Hispanic (94), Catholic (95) or black (96.)”

However, Jason Sattler contends that “Moderate Democrats have a duty to consider Sanders. He has a clear path to beating Trump.” Subtitled “Bernie Sanders isn’t even my favorite senator running for the 2020 nomination. But I see his potential to unite the Democratic Party and oust Trump,” Sattler’s article explains that “If you believe in saving democracy, the courts and the planet, and reversing the unrepentant cruelty, corruption and carelessness that define the current administration, you have a duty to at least consider the candidacy of the most popular senator in America, the top fundraiser in the Democratic primaries, and the man who has generally beaten Trump in head-to-head polls for five years now…Sure, you can’t ignore a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that shows “socialism” — half of Sanders’ “democratic socialist” brand — about as unpopular as capitalism is popular. Conventional wisdom suggests Republicans would love to run against a socialist as the stock market continually hits new highs, raising all boats that happen to float on a sea of 401(k)s…

“Establishment Democrats seem to live in terror of reliving the 1972 presidential election, when a triangulating Richard Nixon crushed lefty George McGovern,” writes Sattler. “But two much more recent nightmares — 2000 and 2016 — are far more instructive. When Democrats fail to bring their left-most flank into the fold, Republicans are able to swipe elections…Beyond his ability to woo the party’s most reluctant supporters, the best case for the strength of Sanders’ candidacy is that pretty much every argument against him ends up pointing to why he might be uniquely electable…Claims that “nobody likes him” in Washington, or that he can’t overcome his socialist branding, ignore what sets him apart from others. Brian Fallon, former spokesperson for the Hillary Clinton campaign, calls it an “authenticity factor.” …Bernie may be a lot of things, but he’s no one’s idea of a Capitol Hill slick…Yes, Sanders is not a Democrat. Neither are most voters. Independent is the most popular party affiliation in America by far.”

But Sanders is in 4th place in the largest swing state, as indicated by a recent Florida poll. As Max Greenwood reports at The Hill, “Michael Bloomberg is leading the pack of Democratic presidential hopefuls in Florida, according to a new survey from St. Pete Polls, a sign that the former New York City mayor has picked up traction in a crucial swing state before most of his rivals have even started to campaign there…The poll shows Bloomberg with 27.3 percent support in the Sunshine State, up 10 points from a similar poll released late last month. Biden, meanwhile, has seen his support in Florida plummet, falling from more than 41 percent in January to 25.9 percent this month…Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are jockeying for third place in the state, notching 10.5 percent and 10.4 percent respectively, while Sen. Amy Klobuchar sits in fifth with 8.6 percent support.”

At Vox Recode, Theodore Schleifer reports that “Furious Oracle employees are demanding that Larry Ellison cancel his Trump fundraiser,” and writes, “Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison’s decision to host a fundraiser for Donald Trump next week has awoken the usually passive workforce at his company, angering some employees who are going public with their disgust over Ellison’s actions…Ellison, the fifth-richest person in the US, surprised the tech industry on Wednesday when news broke that he would host Trump for a golf-filled fundraiser at his estate in California’s Coachella Valley next week. The event is, by far, the most significant public display of support for Trump 2020 by a tech titan…It is not as though Ellison’s support for Republicans is a total shock. Oracle has been one of the Silicon Valley giants that has worked hardest to cultivate ties to the Trump administration. Other tech giants have tried to keep at least some distance from the administration, but Oracle CEO Safra Catz has reportedly been under consideration to take senior roles within the White House, and she has hired several former senior Trump aides at Oracle.” The company’s products include database software and technology, cloud engineered systems, and enterprise software.

Ryan Fan’s medium.com post “How to Make Trump Supporters Change Their Minds” has some painfully-satirical ‘instructions’ for Democrats, which amplify James Carville’s recent comment about too many Dems emitting superiority “vapors.” Here’s a sample: “First, make sure to let Trump supporters know how stupid they are. Pull up a study that says educated people, like yourself, are less likely to support Trump to prove your point. Then, flaunt how much smarter you are than they are. Let them know they’re deplorables, and that if they lost their jobs or are going to lose their healthcare, they deserve it — especially the white working class…Let them know, verbatim, what John Oliver said last night, and then pat yourself in the back for being so funny and original. Ridicule them — that’s always the best tactic. Make sure to destroy them for reading fake news like Breitbart and Fox News, and then brag about how you read credible sources like The Huffington Post. Make sure to show them articles from The Borowitz Report, and then say “look at how ridiculous your President is.”…Let them know they’re on the wrong side of history. If they say something remotely racist, make sure to announce it to the world so no one can forget how much they deserve to be shunned. Attack anyone else that dares defend them as racist as well, and smirk at what a phenomenal debater you are.”


Teixeira: The Case for Klobuchar

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

Matt Yglesias, who I’ve long suspected was the closet political realist among the Vox crowd, has a nice piece up on the case for Klobuchar. Well worth reading after Tuesday’s result in NH.

“Klobuchar…is a Sanders alternative who offers a genuine trade-off — she’s running on a less ambitious agenda, but that consists almost entirely of being careful to avoid politically unpopular positions. She’s for taking action on climate change, but not for a fracking ban. She’s for a public option and price curbs on prescription drugs rather than an expensive Medicare-for-all program. She’d do a better job than Sanders of appealing to swing voters, and Sanders would need to try to make it up by pulling in third-party supporters or new voters.

This is similar to the Biden pitch, but with stronger evidence…
She’s spent most of the 2020 campaign being largely ignored because she’s simply not that distinctive or interesting. She’s the typical age for a presidential aspirant, has the typical qualifications, and has somewhat banal Democratic Party policy views.

But typical is typical for a reason. If you want a political revolution or to take a shot at imposing a wealth tax on America’s billionaires, then probably none of this is very persuasive. Fair enough.

For a long time, though, Biden was riding high on something much simpler — the perception he could beat Trump and restore basic competence and integrity to government.

Over the past couple of weeks, Biden’s shortcomings have started to loom larger and he’s plummeting in the polls. But if his basic message appeals to you — and clearly it does appeal to a lot of Democrats — you owe it to yourself to ask if Klobuchar isn’t the most effective vehicle for that message.”


Teixeira: Klobuchar as Republican Killer

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

You may have heard that Amy Klobuchar has run well in her elections in Minnesota. But you probably don’t realize how crazy good her performance has been there, as she’s swept across all demographics in the state, decimating the GOP in most groups, while reducing their margins to pathetic levels in their best groups.

Consider these data points, both from Klobuchar’s 2018 Senate run and, for comparison, from Clinton’s Presidential performance in the state in 2016. (All data from Catalist Analytics)

White college women: Klobuchar +52, Clinton +23 (!)
White noncollege women: Klobuchar +21, Clinton -4 (!!)
White college men: Klobuchar +28, Clinton even
White 18-29: Klobuchar +39, Clinton +8
White seniors: Klobuchar +14, Clinton -15
Rural white: Klobuchar -5, Clinton -34
Rural white college: Klobuchar +14, Clinton -23
Rural white noncollege: Klobuchar -12, Clinton -38

I rest my case.


Teixeira: Maybe It’s Time to Start Thinking About Amy Klobuchar

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

Sure, the current 538 model gives Klobuchar only a ghost of a chance (less than one percent) of getting the nomination. But that estimate can change rapidly as results come in. Look at what happened to poor Joe Biden after he got hammered in Iowa.

Speaking of Biden and Klobuchar, check out these critiques of Medicare for All at the last debate (from Ryan LIzza’s Politico article):

Here’s Biden hitting Sanders on Medicare for All:

“Look, Bernie says that you have to bring people together and we have to have Medicare for All. But Bernie says — and he says he wrote the damn thing. But he’s unwilling to tell us what the damn thing is going to cost.

The fact that we’re in New Hampshire, a very level-headed group of people, look at the numbers. How much is it going to cost? Who’s going to pay for it? It will cost more than the entire — the entire federal budget we spend now. More than the entire budget. The idea middle-class taxes aren’t going to go up is just crazy.

When they did it in Vermont, what happened? They doubled the state income tax and then had a 14 percent tax on withholding. And they finally did away with it. So how much is it going to cost? When Bernie — you ask Bernie that — I’ll ask him again tonight — sometime — if you ask Bernie that, he says, go figure, ‘I don’t know, we’ll find out.’ I think that was on CBS. He said, ‘We’ll find out’ or something to that effect.

Imagine you’re going unite the country, walking into the Congress, and say, ‘I got this bill. It’s going to provide Medicare for everybody. I can’t tell you how much it’s going to cost, we’ll find out later; it’s likely to be double whatever the — everything we spend in the federal government.’ Who do you think is going to get that passed? I busted my neck getting Obamacare passed, getting every Democratic vote. I know how hard it is.’

Here’s Klobuchar:

“I keep listening to this same debate, and it is not real. It is not real, Bernie, because two-thirds of the Democrats in the Senate are not on your bill and because it would kick 149 million Americans off their current health insurance in four years.

And let me say what else. Elizabeth wants to do it in two years. And, Pete, while you have a different plan now, you sent out a tweet just a few years ago that said, ‘henceforth, forthwith, indubitably, affirmatively,’ you are for Medicare for All for the ages.”

And so I would like to point out that what leadership is about is taking a position, looking at things, and sticking with them. I have long believed that the way that we expand health care to more people and bring down premiums is by building on the Affordable Care Act with a nonprofit public option. That is the best way to do it.

And practically, look at this–the Affordable Care Act is now nearly 10 points more popular than the president of the United States. So why would we talk about blowing it up?

What we need to do is build on it — mental health care, addiction, long-term care — those are the things that would make it better for everyone.”

Whoa–quite a difference! I can definitely see Klobuchar being quite effective against Trump…..Biden, well, less so..

So does she have a shot? As the chart below shows, she’s now within a few points of Warren and Biden. If she had a good night and blew past them to wind up in third….that just might be the beginning of something interesting (though granted her odds would still not be great). We’ll see.


Teixeira: Bernie as Nominee – Be Careful What You Wish For!

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

With the Iowa results (finally) in, the 538 model has flipped and now sees Sanders as the most likely candidate to garner a majority of delegates to the convention and therefore the nomination. This should make Sanders fervent supporters–and they tend to be very fervent–quite happy, even if his current advantage in this metric is fairly modest.

But let’s say Sanders does ride his current advantage to the nomination. Where would that leave the Democrats? Tom Edsall covered this topic in his Times column today and detailed both the reasons why Democrats might be optimistic and might be pessimistic. On the pessimistic side:

“Most political scientists I contacted this week saw greater disadvantages for the Democratic Party in a Sanders nomination than in the possible selection of other leading candidates.

Andrew Engelhardt, a postdoctoral researcher at Brown, wrote, that

“a Sanders nomination would be helpful for other party races to the degree he can encourage individuals who would otherwise not participate to actually turn out. It’s unclear if he helps Democrats win in more moderate districts.”

Engelhardt then noted that a January Economist survey “found that independent and Republican identifiers see Sanders as quite extreme relative to most other prospective Democratic candidates.”

Winning Republican voters is a lost cause for any Democrat, Engelhardt noted, but nominating Sanders could turn away
any who may at least consider someone like Biden or Buttigieg. Further, it may go so far as to encourage these individuals to turn out and vote against Sanders and other Democrats.

Wendy Schiller, a political scientist who is also at Brown, noted in an email that

“Sanders appears to generate the most fervent and intense enthusiasm among his supporters, but polls continue to show that Biden attracts more support among the key groups that are known to get out the door to vote in general elections, especially black voters and voters over the age of 35.”

At the moment, Schiller continued,

“the evidence today just isn’t there that Bernie Sanders at the top of the ticket can generate high enough turnout among black voters to put the Democrats in the White House 2020.”

Eitan Hersh, the Tufts political scientist, raised a different set of concerns about a Sanders nomination, primarily that he would mobilize conservatives:

“Democrats will turn out no matter who their nominee is because they are mostly motivated by their opposition to Trump. Republicans would look at a moderate like Biden or Klobuchar and think the stakes are lower than if the candidate is Sanders or Warren. So they might stay home more.”

How would a Sanders nomination influence the outcome of races for Senate, House and local offices?

“Lots of caveats here,” Hersh wrote,

“but if you want my best guess, it’s that the logic does apply: Democrats should be concerned about heightened counter-mobilization that limits their chances up and down the ballot if they nominate a more ideologically extreme candidate like Sanders.”

Now it may be that the country is ready to elect as president a 78-year-old angry democratic socialist calling for revolution. But if I were a partisan whose top priority was to bring the Trump presidency to an end, I would not bank on it.”

I would add to these observations, the data on key suburban community types recently released by Dante Chinni’s American Communities Project (ACP).

“This year, the ACP is partnering with Dynata, the world’s largest first-party survey insights company, to conduct monthly surveys to measure how each of the 15 community types is reacting to politics in 2020. Now that Dynata has completed its initial December survey, the ACP examines how each of the four big Democratic potentials — Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren — does in a head-to-head matchup against Trump in the Exurbs (1159 responses) and Middle Suburbs (569 responses).

The early results are good for Biden, less so for Sanders….

The Exurbs and Middle Suburbs are more than bellwether communities. Together they represent the pull and push of Trump and his unique brand of politics. The Exurbs underperformed for Trump, giving him less support than other recent GOP nominees. On the other end, the Middle Suburbs surged for the president. (Furthermore, the groups hold lots of voters in the states that were very close and that won Trump the White House: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.)…

Among the big four Democratic frontrunners, Joe Biden’s numbers are the strongest with voters in both community types. In the Exurbs, Trump’s eight-point victory margin would be a Republican low for this century and big red flag for his campaign.

And a one-point win for Trump in the Middle Suburbs would likely mean a big defeat overall. It’s the kind of number that suggests Democrats would win back Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Overall, Biden beats Trump by about six points in the national popular vote….

The numbers are less impressive for Sanders. Trump runs up a big 15-point win the Exurbs. That’s not a huge surprise. Exurban voters probably don’t see a lot to like about the idea of a “Democratic Socialist” as president. They have money in their bank accounts and in the stock market.”

Yep. Be careful what you wish for. The stakes will be pretty high this November.