washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

staff

Teixeira: Biden’s Edge with Older Black Voters Powers Campaign

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 An Older Black Voter Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand

People continue to be mystified why the old establishment white dude who stumbles over his words comfortably leads the Democratic field. But Biden continues to refuse to collapse.

There are several reasons for this but surely one of the most important, if not the most important, is his strength among black voters. And not just black voters in general but older black voters in particular. And it is this latter trend that is possibly the origin of many observers’ failure to “get” Biden’s enduring popularity. Harry Enten explains:

“Biden’s averaged 49% among all potential black Democratic primary voters in our last two CNN national polls. That’s good enough not only for a 35-point lead over his Democratic competitors, but good enough to beat all of them combined by about 10 points.

But I think treating black voters as if they’re some sort of monolith creates some sort of a blind spot for those following the campaign: the wide faultline along age in the black community.

In our polling over the last two months, Biden is getting northward of 60% of the vote among black voters 45 years and older. His nearest competitor, Warren, is 50 points behind him.

Younger black voters are far less enthralled with Biden. A look at our polling over the last three months has him in the low 30s with black voters under the age of 45.

This large age gap has existed all primary long, and it’s not going away. If anything, our polling is indicating that it is getting larger.

The age gap in Biden’s support benefits him in a way that I’m not quite sure folks understand. Simply put, there are more older black voters than there are younger black voters. Those 45 years and older made up 60% of all potential black primary voters. In the majority black primary in South Carolina, those 45 years and older were 71% of all actual primary voters in 2016.

I cannot help but think this age divide imperils some folks ability to understand Biden’s appeal with black voters. If all you’re reading about is how a lot of younger black activists don’t like Biden (which is true), you’re missing most of the black voting population. This is also true if you’re someone who gets their news off of Twitter, where younger voices dominate in a way they don’t in the real world.”

I agree with Enten. I think many people are being sorely misled by what they hear on Twitter and from a sector of very visible black activists. Those views are not, by and large, the views of the black community writ large. It is the latter’s views that explain Biden’s continuing popularity and illuminate his future prospects.

Which are actually pretty good, when you consider how crucial the black vote is to the Democratic nominating process. The Times had an excellent piece on this with good accompanying graphics last week.

Candidates gain delegates based on voting in both states and districts, which are Congressional districts in all but a few places. While Iowa and New Hampshire may generate political momentum for a winner because they vote first, the two states award very few delegates. By contrast, a candidate who is popular in California, Texas and predominantly black districts in the South could pick up big shares of delegates.

A recent poll shows Mr. Biden at 44 percent among black voters in South Carolina, the early voting state with a majority-black Democratic electorate, and a historic harbinger for how the South will vote. The same poll had Mr. Biden’s next closest competitor, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, trailing him by more than 30 percentage points among black voters.

Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham, Ala., who has yet to endorse a candidate, said national political analysts are underestimating the political advantages Mr. Biden enjoys in the South.

“It’s not that he’s weaker than people think,” Mr. Woodfin said. “He’s much stronger.”

Some of the most delegate-rich districts in Southern states like Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina have large shares of black Democratic voters. (Vermont is an exception; its population is largely white, but it has only one district with 11 Democratic delegates.)

Under party rules, more delegates are awarded in districts with high concentrations of Democrats. Because black people overwhelmingly vote Democratic, areas with many black residents tend to have higher numbers of Democratic delegates.

This is a big reason why black Democrats are so sought-after in the race for the party’s nomination. Historically, black Democratic primary voters have tended to back a single candidate…The last Democratic candidate to win the nomination without winning a majority of black voters was Michael Dukakis, then the governor of Massachusetts, in 1988.”

I might add here that black voters are not Biden’s only advantage at this point. There’s also his adamant refusal to take politically toxic positions on hot-button issues to appease vocal critics on his left. We see this most recently in the run up to the release of his immigration plan. From the Post’s Daily 202:

“[The plan] will outline an end to Trump’s family separation policy, protections for “dreamers” and address the root causes of the immigration crisis. This will include a proposal for foreign aid to stabilize the Northern Triangle countries in Central America, similar to what Sanders and Warren had in their plans….

Biden’s plan will be more moderate than his rivals. So far, the biggest flashpoint in the Democratic immigration debate this year has been over whether to repeal a portion of the law that makes it a criminal offense to illegally enter the United States. The proposal was first made by former housing secretary Julián Castro, the first candidate to publish a detailed immigration plan, and it targets Section 1325 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, which the Trump administration used to defend its family separation policies. Sanders and Warren endorsed Castro’s idea.

Biden still opposes repealing Section 1325, and that won’t change. He said during one of the debates that changing the law could incentivize more illegal immigration. “Repealing that section could undermine our immigration system. It could undermine efforts to combat human smuggling,” Alex said in an interview. “It would shift an additional burden into the immigration court system. Additionally, if the logic behind ending 1325 is to end family separation, there are likely at least eight other laws on the books that someone nefarious and anti-immigrant like Trump could use to separate families. So the problem isn’t 1325. The problem is Donald Trump.”

Not that I don’t have my doubts about Joe Biden. I worry about him as a campaigner against Trump. And, while I think his programmatic commitments as they are evolving are plenty progressive, I worry that he will surround himself with the kind of economic and budgetary advisers that will undercut that program. Personnel is policy and neoliberal personnel tend to promote neoliberal policy (see Reid Hundt’s A Crisis Wasted).

That said, he does have strengths–some very important strengths–and even those who don’t like him would do well to understand them.


Teixeira: The Economy Vs. Approval Ratings

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 strong economic report on Friday, there is some trepidation in Democratic circles that such reports will translate into a second Trump term. This is possible. The growth and jobs performance of the economy close to the election has a strong historical relationship to Presidential election outcomes. As a number of people have pointed out, incumbent presidents rarely lose re-election except when there’s a recession in the last two years of their term. And so far we haven’t seen one.

But the other side of this is that strong economic performance should translate into high approval ratings and we’re not seeing that either. Instead, Trump is mired in the low ’40s and seemingly going nowhere. And that is another very strong historical relationship: Presidents with low approval ratings tend to lose elections. And, as Harry Enten points out, we are very close to the period where approval ratings start to be very predictive of the ultimate election outcome.

“The next 100 days will be critical to understanding whether President Donald Trump will win a second term in office. His approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success.

But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins.

Let’s start with where Trump is right now: an approval rating in the low 40s. Since World War II, two presidents have had an approval rating at or below 45% in mid-March of an election year. George H.W. Bush had an approval rating at 39%, while Jimmy Carter’s was at 45% and falling fast. Both of them went on to lose reelection by greater than 5 points.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there have been five presidents with an approval rating of 55% or above. There was Bill Clinton at 55%, Ronald Reagan at 55%, Richard Nixon at 58%, Dwight Eisenhower at 72% and Lyndon Johnson at 80%. All of these presidents won their elections by nine points or greater.

Finally, we have the group of presidents with approval ratings between between 46% and 54%. This includes Gerald Ford at 47%, Barack Obama at 47%, George W. Bush at 49% and Harry Truman at 51%. All of their elections were decided by less than 5 points.

[Only] Ford didn’t win.”

So all in all, I’d keep my eye on Trump’s approval rating. If economic performance is truly going to boost him to a second term, we should start seeing evidence of that in his approval rating. If not, and his approval rating stays where it is or declines, he is in trouble even if the economy keeps chugging along.


Teixeira: The Winning Message for 2020

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

The good folks at Center for American Progress (full disclosure: I work there!), including my good buddy and co-conspirator John Halpin, have just released an enlightening poll on voter attitudes toward the economy, government and poverty. As Helaine Olen notes in the Post, the findings suggest the outlines of a winning Democratic message for 2020 (see the table below for some of those findings).

“As Democratic candidates slug it out with their primary rivals, a new report on voter attitudes toward the economy from the Center for American Progress and pollster GBAO offers guidance on what kind of message will put the eventual nominee and party in the best position for the general election.

Here’s the good news: Unity exists, even in the United States of 2019. “We see widespread support on reducing college costs, taxing the wealthy, checking corporate power and ensuring people have access to the basics,” John Halpin, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and one of the report’s co-authors, told me.

While the president remains divisive, the report finds majorities of Democrats, independents and Republicans agree on many things. Seventy percent or more of those surveyed, including majorities of Republicans, agreed with each of the following statements:

* College education is too expensive, and states should do more to “help people afford a college education without getting buried in debt.”

* “Rich families and corporations should pay a lot more in taxes than they do today, and middle-class families should pay less.”

* People who don’t receive health insurance from an employer should be allowed to buy into a public plan, and pharmaceutical companies should be “penalized” if drug prices increase faster than the rate of inflation.

* Increase “good jobs” with a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure, including both roads and “expanded production of green energy.”

* Reduce inequality with a 2 percent “wealth tax” on net worth in excess of $50 million.

That’s not all. People of every political persuasion give President Trump negative marks on his handling of health care and poverty. When asked what they believed is the most important issue that Trump and Congress should address in the coming year, “making health care more affordable” was cited by a majority of voters. Only a third of the entire electorate supported cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in an effort to address the national debt. And 8 in 10 Democrats and three-fourths of independents believe corporations have too much power and should be “strongly regulated” — something even 49 percent of Republicans also signed off on.”

This is mighty sweet music to my ears. The ideas above are a popular and plenty progressive program a Democratic candidate should be able to run on and win. Not progressive enough for you? Allow me to quote the immortal words of Nancy Pelosi: “Just win, baby”.


Sage Advice for Dems from a Top-Selling Novelist

To better understand how Democrats can win in 2020, it can’t hurt to consider the perspective of leaders from fields outside of politics. In his eloquent HuffPo column, “How Democrats Can Win In 2020,” novelist Richard North Patterson, who can often be found on the New York Times best-seller list, shares some cogent insights:

“Here’s the inescapable challenge posed by the Electoral College: To recapture the presidency, Democrats must increase turnout among their base ― including minorities ― while gaining among white, non-college-educated voters. Writing off blue-collar whites is electoral malpractice: They still comprise 44 percent of the electorate; 50 percent in every Midwestern state; over 60 percent in Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin; and 80 percent in key Pennsylvania counties ― the places that made Trump president.

Of necessity, Democrats must weave their ideals into a larger tapestry, fusing social and racial justice with a unifying economic program that transcends demographic divisions. That includes re-engaging the nearly 6 million people who switched from Obama to Trump, and who may be torn between concerns for their economic security, a distrust of government and a sense of cultural displacement.

To win, the party’s nominee must deliver a consistent message that, as much as possible, unites the party while expanding its reach. This is no easy task: One salient danger is that a fractious primary contest will drive candidates to the left, saddling the nominee with purple-state poison pills like “abolish ICE,” or “single-payer” as the only path to universal health care. The necessary alternative is crafting a broad progressive agenda that empowers the candidate to win ― and then enact real change.

That means confronting Trump’s ethnonationalism by evoking the historic values that made diverse peoples into a united country with shared aspirations. This includes opposing Trump’s racist demagoguery on immigration with a comprehensive program that replaces fear with humanity and common sense.”

Patterson, who has had a distinguished career in public service and political activism, serving as a former chairman of Common Cause and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, adds, “We know Trump’s immigration program ― hatred and paranoia. But what’s the Democrats’ program beyond concern for discrete categories of particularly sympathetic people: Dreamers; families traumatized by separation; or law-abiding but undocumented workers? There isn’t one ― in part because the issue splits progressives from working-class whites and, in some cases, African-Americans. So Republicans made Democrats the party of “sanctuary cities,” “open borders” and a fictitious wave of criminal aliens.” Further,

Without equivocation, Democrats must emphasize how much immigrants have enriched America. They should propose a path to citizenship for Dreamers and legal status for undocumented immigrants who have observed our laws, humane treatment of refugee families, and prompt and compassionate resolution of asylum claims.

But they should also affirm that national integrity demands secure borders, that the number of new residents should reflect what our economy can absorb, and that we should expeditiously deport undocumented immigrants convicted of serious crimes. Any presidential candidate of conscience can stand on that.

Patterson also has some good advice for the tone Democratic candidates and campaign workers should use:

“In terms of presentation, some rules of the road. Don’t condescend to Trump voters. Don’t replicate his style ― millions of Americans, including many who supported him, are sick of rancor. Convey commitment and passion in the service of a more compassionate America. Deplore Trump’s meanness of spirit but focus on his failures of governance: threatening health care, passing tax cuts slanted to the rich, turning the Washington swamp into a cesspool.

Most important, don’t fear proposing federal programs that enhance the prospects and security of Americans at large. Most Americans don’t consider themselves progressives, let alone socialists. But when it comes to their own prosperity and security ― those concerns that cut across the boundaries of age, race or class ― neither are they conservatives. That’s why they favor protecting those with pre-existing conditions, defending Social Security and Medicare, and enacting a higher minimum wage ― all potent issues for Democrats in 2018.”

“But, as with immigration,” Patterson continues, “Democrats have failed to tell a compelling overall story about building a stronger and fairer economy. As Michael Tomasky recently pointed out, the Republican mythology focuses on cutting taxes for the rich while decreasing regulation; its reality includes wage stagnation, income inequality and unsustainable deficits. What the Democrats should say, he advises, is that government grows the economy for all by expanding opportunity for working, middle-class and millennial Americans ― the millions of people, increasingly bereft of security, whom Republican policies have left behind.”

Patterson rolls out a soundbite-ready agenda:

Armed with this message, Democrats can propose an inclusive economic program that widens prosperity and opportunity. That includes empowering families, kids and young people by investing in universal health care; infrastructure; affordable housing; paid family and sick leave; day care; early childhood education; better public schools; affordable college; student debt relief; and vocational education and retraining. Our veterans deserve more support; our seniors a secure retirement. Rural America must be linked to our prosperity through broadband connectivity; better highways and rail lines; economic development geared to the new economy; and programs to combat opioid addiction. And future generations need us to do the urgent work of combating climate change ― beginning now.

Not all of this will work. Our resources are not infinite; nor is the public appetite for institutionalizing massive governmental interventions. New federal initiatives should not be grounded in ideological rapture, but in a pragmatic balancing of benefits with cost that acknowledges failure and funds success. But that’s the enduring lesson of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. By inviting Americans to participate in a better common future, Democrats can grow not just prosperity, but hope and compassion ― the best in us, for a change.

Whoever wins the Democratic presidential nomination may want to recruit Patterson as a strategist/speechwriter, and there’s some good advice here for down-ballot Democrats as well.


Teixeira: A Democratic Playbook for 2020

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

Progressive economic policies–good idea!

Standard-issue progressive rhetoric–not so good idea!

Evidence continues to pile up that most of the Democrats’ progressive economic ideas sell well with the American public.

The question, however, is how do you talk about them so you win over the maximum number of voters. That’s not so obvious.

Robb Willer and Jan Voelkel described their intriguing research on just this question in the New York Times on Sunday. The results are food for thought. The authors take off from the Christopher Ellis/James Stimson research on how Americans tend to be operational liberals at the same time as they are symbolic conservatives (research I have frequently cited here).

Here’s what they did:

“An influential analysis of national polling data by Professors Ellis and Stimson suggests that the most effective candidate in a national election would combine the most popular feature of the Democratic Party, progressive economic policies, with the most popular feature of the Republican Party: the invocation of conservative ideology and values like patriotism, family and the “American dream.”

But are candidates free to mix and match their policies with their symbolic politics? If a Democratic candidate pursued such a mixed strategy, would it work? Or would it make him or her seem hypocritical or incoherent?

To investigate these questions we conducted two experiments, one using a nationally representative sample of Americans, in which we looked at Americans’ support for “Scott Miller,” a hypothetical 2020 Democratic nominee. The participants in our studies were presented with excerpts from Scott Miller’s speeches — but we systematically varied the content of the speeches to analyze the effects of policy platform and symbolic politics.

We found that the most effective Democratic candidate would speak in terms of conservative values while proposing progressive economic policies — with some of our evidence suggesting that endorsing highly progressive policies would be best….

What mattered [the most] was how Scott Miller talked about those [progressive] policies. We found that when he spoke of his platform in terms of conservative values like patriotism, family and the American dream, he consistently drew more support than did the Scott Miller who couched those same policies in more liberal values like economic justice and compassion.

Interestingly, most of the increase in support for the Scott Miller with conservative values came from participants who identified as moderate as well as those who identified as conservative. Notably, liberals were inclined to support the candidate regardless of which rhetorical approach he took.

These results suggest that the most effective Democratic challenger to President Trump in 2020 would invoke conservative values while offering progressive economic policies….

Some progressives may bristle at the prospect of a Democratic candidate who employs rhetoric associated with conservatism. But there are reasons that even stalwart progressives might soften on this point. For one thing, Democrats typically tack to the center after winning the nomination, often compromising or abandoning their most progressive policies. Wouldn’t it be preferable to stick to those popular progressive policies, making the case for them using language that would appeal to more Americans?

But the issue is not just rhetorical. There is nothing that inherently binds valuing family, security and the American dream to conservative economic policies. Perhaps these values are served just as well — or even better — by progressive economic policies. If so, Democrats should do more to stress that fact, emphasizing more strongly how their policies can address the concerns of a wider range of Americans.”

Granted, this kind of an experimental study is not definitive proof of how things might work in the real world. But it’s certainly worth considering.


Hurst: Amplified Advantage – Why Education Is Not the Answer to Our Class Problems

At Working-Class Perspectives, Co-Editor John Russo, visiting scholar at the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University, writes: “We like to think that education is the great leveller, boosting poor and working-class young people into the middle class and beyond. If only more people had access to higher education, the theory goes, we would have less economic inequality. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. As Allison L. Hurst explains in this week’s Working-Class Perspectives, the economic and social advantages that well-off students bring with them into college also ensure then more opportunities after they graduate, while working-class graduates face more challenges.”:

Thirty years ago, after having dropped out of college after just one term, unable to pay for my dorm room, I was unsure if I would ever leave the working class.  Two years later I was a student at Barnard College, an elite small liberal arts college three thousand miles from my parents’ home.  To this day, I am not sure how I made that leap, but it was smoothed over by significant financial assistance from the college.  Unable to pay for my public university, I was able to graduate from one of the best private colleges in the country virtually debt-free.

Now I study higher education and its connection to what we call intergenerational social mobility, the movement (or lack of movement) between classes, comparing children and parents’ occupational outcomes over time.

I have some bad news.  While the path I took was not easy, gaining social mobility through college education is much harder for young people today.  Ironically, even as more children of the working class go to college, the educational attainment gap between the middle class and the working class continues to grow.

How can this be?  For one thing, the bar for “being educated” continues to rise.  As more people earn college degrees than ever before, the kind of college degree increasingly matters.  What type of institution?  What major field of study?  Also important is the level of education – in many fields a four-year degree is no longer enough to assure a middle-class salaried job.  You need a master’s degree, or even a PhD, for some work, even outside of academia.

Scholars of education (including sociologists like me) have known all of this for a while now, which is why so many of us have studied access to colleges and programs.  Colleges have struggled to open their doors to first-generation and working-class students.  They are paying more attention to ways of broadening access, sometimes pushed and shoved into doing so by state boards of higher education.  At the same time, budget cuts at public colleges and universities undercut many of these efforts.

But getting working-class students into colleges is only half the battle.  Keeping them and helping them thrive has proven difficult.  I explore some of the many reasons for this in my first book, The Burden of Academic Success:  marginalization, impostor syndrome, feeling out of place.  Even at open access two-year public colleges and universities that are the most open to working-class students, middle-class students predominate.

My experiences at Barnard reflect why that matters.  I rarely talked to anyone about my family, and, when I did, I regretted the ridicule, mockery, and disbelief.  I knew I was different.  Most of the time I was too busy juggling off-campus work and an overloaded academic schedule to care, but the isolated feeling was always lurking in the background.  If I hadn’t an abundant scholarship, I know I would have left.  As Tony Jack reminds us, “access is not inclusion.”

Getting working-class students into college and keeping them has proven difficult, but not impossible.  Successes – like me, Tony Jack, all the working-class academics out there —  do exist.  Here’s the real problem: even when we succeed academically, the gap between us and everyone else increases after we graduate, as Debbie Warnock’s remarkably honest account of her move into and through the academy so poignantly demonstrates.

In Amplified Advantage: Going to A “Good College” in an Era of Inequality, I demonstrate the many ways that parental resources and class cultures amplify the preexisting advantages of some students, even as colleges provide all students a solid education, expanded social networks, and useful cultural capital.  Based on a national survey of college students attending small liberal arts colleges, interviews, and a follow-up survey with recent college graduates, I found that colleges like Barnard did a lot of things well for their students.  Students generally had frequent interactions with faculty and peers, ample opportunities for doing research outside of class, abundant extracurricular activities, and a lot of institutional support for individual growth.  Given the quality of education and opportunity provided, the average $50,000 annual price tag for elite schools actually seems worthwhile, especially when low-income and working-class students receive sufficient financial assistance.

And yet, for all these colleges do to provide an equal playing field for students (all live on campus, everyone takes small classes, almost everyone is involved in useful extracurricular activities), once students graduate, their experiences and opportunities deviate sharply.  More elite students can leverage their advantages and resources in ways unavailable to other students.  They may, for example, take a risk on joining a start-up company, knowing that they have resources to fall back on if this risk does not pay off.  Others may rely on parental financial assistance to spend a year in New York City working at an unpaid internship or working for a nonprofit in a position that pays very little, expecting that such work will eventually pay off in a more secure and remunerative position.  Still others call on the friends and social networks of wealthy parents in the financial sector to ensure them high-paying jobs immediately after graduation, despite relatively shaky grades. Where elite students can afford to take big risks with potential big payoffs, knowing that the risk is ultimately ensured, working-class students’ choices are heavily constrained by circumstance and necessity.   Even compared with more middle-class peers, who may owe just as much in student loans, working-class students are much more likely to take jobs that they do not like and that do not match their skillsets in order to repay student debt. They may have accrued a ton of social and cultural capital while in college, but they can’t make use of it in the way of their peers.

In an increasingly unequal world, where elites outpace all others, reforming higher education from within won’t solve the problem. Class inequities shape students’ opportunities from before they enter college and long after they graduate. To the contrary, if we focus on education as the primary tool to level the playing field, we lose sight of the larger battle. As Andrew Sayer cautions, even reform efforts with egalitarian motives “are likely to be twisted by the field of class forces in ways which reproduce class hierarchy.”  In other words, the more we turn to education as a way out of class struggle, the more we may actually end up amplifying advantages of the few.

And we cannot afford to do that now. The time for ignoring the larger class struggle has passed, as we are all implicated in the game that is being played.  Simply put, expanding opportunities does not work because some players start off with extra resources, and they will use all the tools they have at their disposal to amplify their advantages.  Struggles might ensue over the value of those tools, which suit is “trump,” and which advantages accrue the most chips, but as the pot grows bigger and the stakes get higher, the game is still rigged against those who begin with fewer chips.  Do we want to keep playing this game?  Do we know how to stop?  It’s time to stop asking how we can get more people into college and start asking why it matters.


Teixeira: Why the Democratic Presidential Nominee Will Run on Medicare for All Who Want It

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

OK, I’m Calling It: The Democratic Nominee Will Run on Medicare for All Who Want It

Unless it’s Bernie and that’s just not going to happen. Check out the Quinnipiac Poll results below. Notice any difference between voter reaction to single payer Medicare for All and public option Medicare for All Who Want It? Yup, pretty drastic including absolutely massive swings among both white college and white noncollege between the two questions.

I just don’t think any nominee, including Warren who’s already backtracking, can ignore these data and associated political trends.

The Times has run two useful articles in the last few days highlighting these political trends. The first was on how the public option is drawing in voters who aren’t sure about Medicare for All/single payer.

“Polls suggest that some voters have become unnerved by the price tags of the Warren and Sanders’ “Medicare for all” plans and the fact that they would abolish private health insurance. Support for such an approach has narrowed in recent months, as people have begun to understand what it would involve. A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll of voters in four battleground states — Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — found that 62 percent of those who are undecided or are still persuadable believe that “a national Medicare-for-all plan that would eliminate private health insurance” is a bad idea….

If Ms. Warren was hoping for a second look from Democrats alarmed by her single-payer plan, she found one in Betsy Loughran, 79, of Tamworth, N.H. Ms. Loughran, who used to run a nonprofit social services agency, said she found Ms. Warren’s proposal for an interim public option “much more palatable, frankly” — so much so that she would now consider donating to her campaign.

“It would be no slam dunk even to get a public option through Congress,” said Ms. Loughran, adding that Ms. Warren’s full-throated support of “Medicare for all” had made her more interested in centrist candidates like Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Klobuchar. “But if Elizabeth backs off and has a transition plan that would allow people to keep their private health insurance, that makes much more sense.”

The other Times article covered the many Democratic politicians and leaders who are running hard toward the public option and see Medicare for All/single payer as politically unviable in the 2020 election.

“Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who has said it would be a “terrible mistake” for the party nominee to support Medicare for all, is urging Democrats to embrace a more unified message against Mr. Trump. That feels unlikely in the midst of a heated primary campaign where health care has emerged as a significant difference between the candidates.

“Democrats need to start talking about the contrast with Trump on this,” said Mr. Brown, who has not endorsed a candidate in the primary race. “The conversation should not be Democrats fighting over the path to universal coverage.”

Congressional candidates are frequently asked whether they agree with the policy; candidates in all 10 of the most competitive Senate races have said they do not support it, preferring to keep their health care message focused on expanding Medicaid, protecting the Affordable Care Act and slamming repeal efforts by Republicans.”

When Sherrod Brown talks, I listen! Anyway, I think the wind is blowing pretty hard toward Medicare for All Who Want It. I expect it to carry the day.


Goddard: 2020 Electoral College Map Shows Challenge for Dems

Taegan Goddard’s “2020 Presidential Election Interactive Map” below allows you to tweak the electoral vote total in various ways by clicking on the (grey) “battleground state” and changing it’s color to red or blue, depending on your expectation (270=blue/red victory). Of course this is way-early guessswork, but at least you can make it data-driven guesswork by analyzing recent polling data from some of the sources listed below.

It can be argued that there are a few more than just six battleground states, perhaps as many as a dozen by some estimates. But any credible list would feature these six as leading swing state probabilities. Goddard’s interactive electoral vote map:

2020 electoral vote map

Goddard’s sources, “currently based on the consensus of the following forecasts and polling data:

Feel free to find some more recent data sources in particular states for tweaking the map. Goddard will be “updating the consensus map as more forecasts come in” and invites readers to “use the 2016 electoral map or the 2018 midterm election voteas the starting point for your own electoral forecast.”

He notes, also that “Because most states allocate their electoral votes on an “winner-take-all” basis — the exceptions being Maine and Nebraska, which split their electoral votes by congressional district” and “If the election results in a 269 to 269 electoral vote tie, then the House of Representatives convenes to choose the president.”

As the battleground state with the largest number of electoral votes, Florida is critical to the strategy of both parties. “If Trump were to win Florida again, Democrats would need to recapture three Midwestern states in the Rust Belt — or find substitutes — to win the presidency,” Goddard writes. “If Democrats win Florida, any one of the three Rust Belt states would secure the presidency, unless Trump can pick off another blue state that Democrats won in 2016.” PA has the battleground’s second largest total number of electoral votes, after FL

Noting that, in 2016, Trump “carried three “Rust Belt” states that many expected Democrats to win: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania,” Goddard adds that “Trump won these three states by less than a combined 80,000 votes, or just .06% of the 137 million votes cast. But that was still enough to get Trump to the 270 to win.”

Alternatively, “Some say Democrats could pursue a “Sun Belt” strategy and perhaps win Florida plus North Carolina, Arizona, Texas or Georgia. All of those states went to Trump in 2016, but there are some indications from early polling that at least some might be among the battleground states in play in 2020.”

 


Teixeira: We Already Know the Forces Moving For and Against Trump for 2020, We Just Don’t Know the Net!

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

Ron Brownstein does a nice job laying out the forces and counterforces that will determine the outcome of the 2020 election. They are:

“The three biggest challenges looming in 2020 for Trump, many analysts agree, are:

* The recoil from his definition of the Republican Party in white-collar suburbs, including many that previously leaned toward the GOP.

* A feedback loop in which his efforts to mobilize turnout among his core supporters are producing an offsetting turnout surge among key Democratic groups, particularly African Americans.

* An unremittingly confrontational personal style that appears to be alienating a broad swath of female voters, including some of the non-college white women who helped drive his 2016 victory. That behavior was exemplified by Trump’s tweet last week attacking former US Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in bitterly personal terms.

Trump’s principal political assets on the other side of the ledger are his success at consolidating and energizing the Republican base and deepening the GOP’s dominance among white voters who live outside of major population centers, identify as evangelical Christians or lack college degrees, especially the men in each of those groups.”

If I had to pick a demographic that I think will determine the 2020 result in the last instance, I would be tempted to pick white noncollege women. If his evident softness among this group translates into a lack of vote support next November, I think it’ll be very hard for him to win.

“In Wisconsin polling by the Marquette University law school, Trump’s approval rating among non-college white women averages just 42% through his presidency; the latest Muhlenberg College survey in Pennsylvania found that he led Democratic Joe Biden among them by just 5 percentage points (after beating Hillary Clinton by 20 points with them there in 2016, according to the exit polls). Recent state surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Cook Political Report likewise put Trump’s approval among non-college white women at just 42% in Michigan, 43% in Wisconsin and 46% in Pennsylvania. Nationally, an average of the weekly polls conducted since July by the Nationscape project, launched by the Democracy Fund and UCLA political scientists, found that Trump’s approval among non-college white women who are not evangelical Christians — who account for most non-college white women in the Rust Belt — stood at just 41%.”

But it’s still way early. Keep your eye on the trends mentioned by Brownstein but remember: it’s not just the trends; it’s how they net out. That’s the big and, at this point, unanswerable question.


Teixeira: A Trump Surge in Wisconsin?

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

A Trump Surge in Wisconsin?

Well, maybe. The latest WI survey from the widely-respected Marquette Law School poll has Trump ahead of Biden by 3 in a trial heat matchup. It is just one poll, but it does serve as a fair reminder that Trump will likely be very competitive in this area of the country.

More broadly, here is my take on the poll and related issues around WI and 2020.

I think it’s fair to say that WI will be tough for the Dems, relative to MI and PA. The polling data, including this latest Marquette poll, are consistent with that. That said, I wouldn’t get too bent out of shape about the new poll; in August, the Marquette poll had Biden ahead by 9; it’s somewhat hard to believe things have changed that much in WI since then. The RCP rolling average still has Biden ahead by 3 in the matchup–worse for sure than MI and PA but still ahead. I’d need to see a few more surveys before I conclude Trump really is running ahead in the state. Of course, if we do see confirmation from several more polls, feel free to turn up the worry knob!

Contextual information for thinking about WI and 2020:

In 2016, Trump carried Wisconsin by 0.8 percentage points and just 23,000 votes. Prior to 2016, Democratic presidential candidates carried Wisconsin for seven straight elections from 1988 to 2012. But two of those victories were razor-thin, won by less than half a percentage point.

Democrats fared better in 2018. They carried the House popular vote by slightly less than 9 points. However, Republicans held all of their House seats and, on net, kept the same number of state legislative seats. But Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin easily won reelection by 11 points, and Tony Evers narrowly defeated incumbent Scott Walker by a point to recover the governor’s mansion for the Democrats and, in the process, break the Republican trifecta hold on state government.

The Democratic candidate will hope to continue the trends that manifested themselves in 2018, while Trump will try to build on his winning coalition from 2016. Trump has a -5 negative net approval rating in the state, which is slightly better than his approval rating in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Nonwhites made up just 10 percent of Wisconsin voters in 2016, distributed roughly as 4-3-3 between Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians/other races and favoring Clinton by 85, 37, and 17 points, respectively. Clinton also had a strong advantage among white college graduates of 15 points (54 percent to 39 percent), which is better than her performance among this demographic group in either Michigan or Pennsylvania.

But there were also more white noncollege voters, 58 percent, in Wisconsin than in either Michigan or Pennsylvania. These voters favored Trump by 19 points.

In 2020, Blacks’ share of eligible voters should remain about the same, while Hispanics should go up by 0.7 points and Asians/other races by 0.4 points. White college-educated voters should also go up a full point, while white noncollege voters should drop by 2.3 points. These changes, favorable for the Democrats, would be enough to just barely move the state into the Democratic column if turnout and partisan voting preferences by group remained the same as in 2016.

To carry the state again, Trump likely needs to increase his support among white noncollege voters from his 19-point advantage in 2016 and/or increase this group’s relative turnout. Alternatively, he could try to increase his support among the considerably less-friendly white college demographic. But the voting patterns from 2016 will likely not suffice for a Trump victory in 2020.

As noted previously, demographic changes in the underlying eligible electorate would be enough for the Democratic candidate to barely carry the state in 2020, if voting patterns from 2016 remain the same. A safer strategy would be to change some key voting patterns from 2016 in Democrats’ favor. One obvious goal would be to increase Black turnout—which declined a massive 19 points in 2016—back to its 2012 levels. Doing so would add about a point and half to the Democratic margin in 2020.

Widening the Democrats’ already-healthy margin among white college graduates by 10 points would be more effective, adding 3 points to potential Democratic 2020 performance. But moving the Democrats’ white noncollege deficit back to 2012 levels would add 7 points to Democrats’ projected 2020 margin. White noncollege women are the clear target group here, since Clinton’s deficit among these voters (-16 points) was much less than her deficit among their male counterparts (-43 points).