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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Some Math Behind Warnock’s Victory

From “3 numbers that show how Raphael Warnock won the Georgia runoff” by Jessica Piper at Politico:

After edging out Walker on Election Day, Warnock narrowly improved on his margins across the state in the runoff. He was buoyed by strong enough turnout in the Atlanta area, particularly among Black voters. And he built up an advantage from early and mail voting that Republicans simply could not catch — a subject the GOP is belatedly addressing after its disappointing midterms….Here are the numbers that explain how the incumbent Democrat pulled it off.

More than 320,000 votes: Warnock’s advantage from mail and early voting

Georgia’s runoff results highlighted once again the recent partisan polarization of methods of voting. Since 2020, Republican leaders, including former President Donald Trump, have expressed skepticism of early and absentee voting methods — although a number of Republican leaders other than Trump appear to be rethinking that opposition after losses in Georgia and elsewhere….

….Despite records set in the first few days of early voting, there was still significantly less total early voting than in the January 2021 runoffs, when the early voting period was longer and overall turnout — including Election Day voting — topped 4.4 million, compared to only 3.5 million this year.

But the early and absentee vote still allowed Warnock to build a lead of more than 320,000 votes, which Walker was unable to overcome on Election Day. The GOP nominee won the Election Day vote by around 225,000 votes, not enough to put him over the top.

Just 26 out of 159 counties: Where Walker improved his margin compared to November

After trailing Warnock slightly in the November election that prompted the runoff, Walker either needed to shift turnout in his favor or improve his margins.

He couldn’t do it. Walker’s share of the two-party vote improved in just 26 of the state’s 159 counties, according to a POLITICO analysis of unofficial results reported by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. The counties where he managed to improve were largely small and rural — accounting for just 5 percent of total votes cast in the state — so Walker could not bank enough votes to offset Warnock’s gains elsewhere.

Close enough to 90 percent: Turnout compared to November in Atlanta-area Democratic strongholds

Statewide turnout in the runoff was roughly 89 percent of what it was in November, with more than 3.5 million voters casting ballots this time. High turnout does not inherently benefit one candidate or the other. But Walker, who had trailed slightly in the November election, needed relatively higher turnout in GOP-friendly counties compared to Democratic-leaning ones. That did not substantially materialize….Most importantly for Warnock, Democratic strongholds in metro Atlanta saw relatively high turnout. In DeKalb County, turnout was higher than the state average. It was slightly lower in Clayton and Fulton counties, but Warnock improved his margin slightly in both, offsetting turnout losses.

And give it up for Quentin Fulks, Warnock’s campaign manager, who did an outstanding job of overseeing GOTV strategy where it counted.

Teixeira: The Cultural Left (Still) Puts a Ceiling on Democratic Support

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

In September of last year I wrote:

The cultural left has managed to associate the Democratic party with a series of views on crime, immigration, policing, free speech and of course race and gender that are quite far from those of the median voter. That’s a success for the cultural left but the hard reality is that it’s an electoral liability for the Democratic party. From time to time Democratic politicians like Biden try to dissociate themselves from super-unpopular ideas like defunding the police but the voices of the cultural left within the party are still more deferred to than opposed. These voices are further amplified by Democratic-leaning media and nonprofits, as well as within the Democratic party infrastructure itself, all of which are thoroughly dominated by the cultural left. In an era when a party’s national brand increasingly defines state and even local electoral contests, Democratic candidates have a very hard time shaking these cultural left associations.

Since then we have had the 2022 election where Democrats did manage to hold off a red wave. They lost only 9 seats in the House, gained a seat in the Senate (at this point) and two governorships plus made progress in state legislatures. Have they broken through that ceiling? As the cultural left of the Democrats always maintains, is an aggressively left stance on these issues actually a feature not a bug of contemporary Democratic party practice?

Not really. That ceiling is still fully intact. Democrats lost the nationwide popular vote by 3 points (48-51), along with control of the House. Working class Democratic supportdeclined…..again (down 9 margin points). Hispanic support declined….again (down 11 points). Black support declined….again (down 14 points). Republicans got 40 percent of the Hispanic working class House vote and 45 percent among Hispanic men. They got 19 percent among black men, According to an AARP/Fabrizio Ward/Impact Research post-election survey, Democrats did not do any better among these demographics in competitive House districts. The did however clean up in these districts among white college graduate women, carrying them by 34 points.

This does not sound like a ceiling being broken. It’s more like the sound of stalemate. As several studies have shown, Trump-endorsed, MAGA-ish candidates managed to wipe out a good chunk of the expected swing toward Republicans, paying a penalty of about 5 points in their support levels relative to more conventional Republicans. On the other hand, Democrats went into the election with double digit disadvantages on immigration and the border (-24), reducing crime (-20), focusing enough on the economy (-20), valuing hard work (-15) and being patriotic (-10). Another pre-election survey by Stan Greenberg found that voters’ top worries if Democrats won full control of government were “crime and homelessness out of control in cities and police coming under attack,” followed by “the southern border being open to immigrants.”

As Greenberg noted, many Democrats have been:

[b]linded…from seeing the priorities and needs of working-class African American, Hispanic, and Asian American voters. Those were the voters who pulled back from their historic support for Democrats [in 2020]. To be honest, many assumed that battling long-standing racial inequities would be their top priority. But that assumption becomes indefensibly elitist when it turns out these voters were much more focused on the economy, corporate power, and crime….

From early 2020 onward, Democratic leaders showed no interest as far as voters could tell in addressing crime or making communities safer….. [R]esearch in the African American, Hispanic, and Asian American communities…pointed to the rising worry about crime. And they worried more about the rise in crime than the rise in police abuse. Yet Democrats throughout 2021 focused almost exclusively on the latter.

No wonder Republicans were able to pillory the Democrats on crime in 2022, including using the issue to great advantage in New York where they flipped four Democratic-held House seats. If the Democrats had held those seats they would have come within a whisker of holding the House. But Democrats, under the sway of the cultural left, persist in seeing the crime issue as little more than an excuse for racialized attacks by the right, rather than an actual concern of voters. In New York, Democrats have angrily blamed Eric Adams for their problems, because he has treated crime like a real issue and dared to suggest there might be problems with bail reform, a pet cause of the Democratic left.

Clearly, not much has changed since before the election when we were treated to articles like ”Crime is surging (in Fox News coverage)”. This when firearm homicide deaths among black men have reached highs not seen since the early 1990’s! I have termed this tendency among Democrats to resolutely disregard a real problem if conservatives are talking about it as the Fox News Fallacy. Apparently, it’s alive and well in the aftermath of the 2022 election.

Democrats should think long and hard about why, despite the GOP’s obvious and severe liabilities and its long roster of bonkers politicians and activists, they can’t do any better than the current stalemate. Consider these data from the AP/NORC VoteCast survey:

Too tolerant of extremist groups?

Democratic party, yes: 53 percent; Republican party, yes: 53 percent

Talks about politics in a way that is leading to acts of violence?

Democrats, yes: 54 percent; Republicans, yes: 56 percent


Favorable toward Joe Biden: 41 percent; favorable toward Donald Trump: 44 percent

Favorable toward Democratic party: 42 percent; favorable toward Republican party: 47 percent

How often do what’s right for the country?

Democratic party, all/most of time: 41 percent; Republican party, all/most of the time: 41 percent

These data clearly indicate that the Democratic party brand is still pretty terrible and doesn’t appear to have much of an advantage over its rivals. That ceiling on Democratic support remains.

Can the Democrats break through that ceiling? Another survey by Greenberg, conducted on election day, provides some insight. His survey, besides confirming the Democrats’ dreadful image in the areas enumerated above, had a very interesting finding on the crime issue. The survey found that the Democrats’ most powerful message on this currently damaging issue for them is:

Too many in my party thought it was not okay to talk about the growing violent crime problem in our community. They focused only on the police. From day one, we needed to rush more police, not defund in any way. Get criminals into jail. They weren’t listening to you. There are less than 5 members in the House who are for defunding. Five. They are extreme and don’t speak for the Democratic Party. The Democrats in the Congress are mainstream, and they voted to fund the Capitol police, ICE, and to increase the number of first responders in your communities.

Notice the forthright willingness to draw lines against those in their own party who espouse extreme, unpopular positions. This approach could easily be applied to other difficult issues where the Democrats’ cultural left is damaging the party’s brand and alienating normie voters: immigration, race essentialism, gender ideology, school curricula, even climate. There’s a world of possibilities here should the Democrats have the guts to try them and dump the Fox News Fallacy once and for all. If not, today’s unpleasant stalemate will likely continue.

Where the GOP’s ‘Crime Wave’ Meme Flunked….and Worked

Samantha Michaels has one of the more nuanced assessments of the effect of the GOP’s “crime wave” meme in the 2022 midterm elections. As Michaels writes at Mother Jones,

Leading up to the election, Republicans relentlessly blasted voters with campaign ads about crime, offering them brutal images of shootings and assaults and suggesting that if progressives got their way, murderers would run rampant on the streets and sex offenders would approach their children at barbershops. Journalists, too, fanned the flames, quoting voters across the nation who seemed terrified about the prospect of becoming victims. The only way to deal with the threats, some Republicans intoned, was to mount an aggressive and unforgiving campaign against criminals before the country devolved into chaos.

But amid the fearmongering, some Democratic candidates opted away from “tough on crime” messaging to focus instead on how they would change the criminal justice system, to make it more fair and effective. And on Tuesday, a substantial number of voters seemed willing to embrace their proactive vision: Perhaps to both parties’ surprise, many reform-minded candidates scored victories in the midterms.

In Pennsylvania’s closely watched Senate race, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman beat Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz after underscoring his work on the state pardons board, where he gave second chances to some incarcerated people serving lengthy sentences. In New York, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul staved off Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin’s allegations that she hindered public safety by supporting bail reforms. And in Minneapolis, in the first election for a county attorney since the murder of George Floyd in 2020, a former public defender and longtime critic of the police department won by a large margin over a former prosecutor with law enforcement endorsements.

Although Republicans with traditional “law and order” platforms triumphed in plenty of races, Tuesday did not bring the kind of election sweep they’d hoped for. “Fears that the crime-wave rhetoric would take down Democratic candidates just didn’t materialize at the national level,” says Insha Rahman at the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit think tank focused on criminal justice issues. “Voters saw past the scare tactics.”

Michaels adds that “Democrats jumped on the defense, putting out their own tidal wave of TV spots on the subject. All together, both parties spent an estimated $85 million on crime ads after Labor Day, more than in recent years. And voters seemed to absorb these messages, with poll after poll showing that crime was a key issue as they prepared their ballots.”

Michaels provides other examples of the failure of the ‘crime wave’ meme, but also notes,

That’s not to say crime didn’t matter, or that Republicans who fearmongered had no impact. In Wisconsin, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson won reelection after attacking Democratic challenger Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes for being “dangerously liberal on crime,” in a tight Senate race that could help determine which party takes majority control. And in Georgia, another battleground state, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock lacked enough votes to avoid a runoff against Republican Herschel Walker, who falsely claimed that Warnock disrespected police and cut their funding.

“Tough on crime” rhetoric scored other victories, too: Ohio and Alabama voters passed ballot measures that make it easier to jail people before their trials, while those in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Arkansas rejected drug legalization measures. In San Francisco, moderate District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, who took office after the recall, maintained a big lead on Thursday despite criticisms that she hindered prosecutions of police.

And in some cases, progressive wins were too close for comfort. In Democratic strongholds that previously enacted controversial justice reforms, such as Oregon, where a 2020 ballot measure decriminalized the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs, or New York, where lawmakers enacted bail reforms the same year, Democrats found themselves in unusually tight races against Republicans. New York Gov. Hochul, for example, won by only 5 percentage points. “You have to wonder,” says Rahman, “are these candidates either losing ground or losing entirely, as we’ve seen with the sweep of the New York House races,” because they did not do enough to assure voters that reforms and public safety can go hand in hand?

Michaels writes that “Going forward, Democrats still have a lot of work to do on crime. They “may have dodged a bullet by avoiding the anticipated red wave” this year, says Rahman, “but this issue will continue to rear its head,” and “they need to seize the opportunity with a more proactive approach.”

Noting a Vera Institute study about public safety taken before the midterm elections, Michaels says the study found that “voters across the political spectrum gravitated away from ads that focused on fear and toward ads that highlighted concrete fixes….The vast majority of respondents wanted politicians to prevent crime, not just react to it. “Democrats should continue to lead with how they are supporting fairness, transparency, better use of resources, and why that improves public safety, and not just respond to these ads and say, ‘I’m tough on crime too,’ because that’s not the answer,” says Lauren-Brooke Eisen, a senior director at the Brennan Center for Justice, another think tank.”

Political Strategy Notes

Christian Paz explains “How independent voters saved Democrats” at Vox: “Democrats would not have had such a good election night without the support of independent voters….These mystical swing voters don’t affiliate themselves with a specific party, tend to be more ideologically moderate, and represent a plurality of voters in the United States. But they are also hard to reach, often less politically engaged, and frequently confused with “weak partisans” (less energetic Democrats or Republicans) because they can have ideological leans….They also tend to swing elections — and this year’s dissipation of the much-hyped “red wave” is partially a result of independent voters picking the Democratic candidate in competitive contests in swing states and districts….Despite plenty of polling this year showing that independents were, like Republicans, primarily concerned with the state of the economy and inflation, they ended up making nuanced decisions in key statewide races — and that worked to benefit Democrats….In data provided to Vox from Navigator’s midterm voters survey, those numbers show that for independent men, inflation was a top concern for half of them, while abortion was the top concern for 23 percent. Among women, inflation was the top concern for 46 percent of respondents, while abortion was close behind at 34 percent. Though the numbers differ slightly between Navigator’s finding and exit polls, the same 17-percent gender gap shows up: Independent men supported Republicans slightly more than Democrats, but independent women backed Democrats by a much bigger margin.”

Joan McCarter says “Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi need to channel Harry Reid right now, and fight for our future” and writes at Daily Kos: “The number one thing Pelosi and Schumer needed to deal with started a few months ago, when House Republicans began announcing their hostage-taking intentions. The over-confident GOP announced that they would force cuts to Social Security and Medicare by refusing to raise the nation’s debt ceiling next year, now likely in June. That’s the promise the U.S. government makes to all its creditors and to the American people that the payments that have been promised to them—from troops’ paychecks to monthly Social Security checks to global debt servicing—will be covered. Not extending those guarantees by raising the debt ceiling threatens the entire global economy….So what should they do? Channel former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and cancel Christmas….The threat would probably be enough to bring some recalcitrant members—possibly even some outgoing Senate Republicans—into line to get priorities taken care of. Like starting a budget reconciliation bill in the House right now that will include dealing with the debt ceiling, funding the government, and whatever other steps necessary for maniac-proofing the government. Yes, budget reconciliation bills take time, and can include all-night vote-a-ramas in the Senate. Do what Harry did, on multiple occasions: keep the Senate in session all night. Tell Senators they will have to be there all night. Let them know that if they don’t play nice, they may have to be there until Christmas Eve, just like Harry made them do to give the nationaccess to health care. The Affordable Care Act passed the Senate on Christmas Eve, 2009, while a blizzard engulfed Washington, D.C. Threaten to do that again, this time to save Social Security….Make sure the whole nation knows that’s what you’re willing to do: forego your treasured time off, during the biggest holiday of the year, to make sure the programs that are so vital will continue, unharmed. Make House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s nightmare of a leadership fight even harder by focusing the nation’s ire on the House Republicans….Let Speaker Pelosi step away from the gavel having realized one last, huge achievement—saving Social Security….Be like Harry Reid. Fight.”

At The American Prospect, Austin Ahlman shares a provocative take on the midterm elections in his article, “Democrats Rediscover Populism—and Not a Moment Too Soon: As Republicans took a radical turn, Democrats learned to talk to normal people again.” As Ahlman writes that “there is one unifying explanation for why Democrats defied expectations and precedent—and perhaps there is not—it appears to be that the dire implications of losing the election cycle forced Democrats to do something they generally abhor: name enemies, and describe how they intend to beat them. Self-described moderate and centrist Democrats discovered a newfound willingness to attack the pharmaceutical industry, vote to threaten oil companies over their profit margins, and otherwise hold special interests to account. Clear enemies to women’s rights sitting on the Supreme Court, and enemies to democracy running for office, gave a sharper edge to Democratic messaging, and a real choice to voters….The newly resounding clarity of Democrats’ party-line messaging on economics—a phenomenon enabled by the Biden administration’s clear rejection of the constrained economic orthodoxies that guided the last two Democratic administrations—combined with Democrats’ attempt to build a popular front against Republicans’ growing authoritarianism could form the basis for a new populist Democratic movement. But it remains to be seen whether the party has the will to see that through….While Democrats largely succeeded in heading off a red wave, they fell short in areas where candidates failed to tell a cohesive and compelling story about the relationship between assaults on economic freedom and assaults on democracy and reproductive rights, especially with voters who were not facing immediate, tangible risks to their bodily autonomy or local democratic institutions. Those losses appear to have proved sufficient for the party to lose the House—stalling out any potential that Democrats will act on their bold rhetoric, and potentially souring their relationship with the voters persuaded by their message….But the encouraging number of candidates who managed to find success against daunting odds offers proof that the populist spark Democrats discovered this year may be their best shot in the future to build a broad enough coalition to pass significant pieces of the social and economic agenda Biden abandoned, and thwart ongoing attempts by Trumpists to bring a right-wing populist movement that openly flirts with authoritarianism into power.”

Ahlman adds, “In a press call in early October, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal relished the turn Democrats’ messaging had taken in the months leading up to the election. “The mainstream Democratic agenda has moved so much in terms of what we’re fighting for as a party, and that is really due to decades of organizing,” she told the Prospect in response to a question about her appraisal of Democrats’ overarching midterms message. She mentioned corporate price-gouging, antitrust reforms, and bans on insider trading as “key priorities of the Progressive Caucus.” Candidates, she suggested, would be wise to find specific examples in those veins that resonate with their constituencies, and really hammer those home….House Majority PAC, the largest Democratic outside spender for House races, has also been especially forward in claiming credit for Democrats’ messaging campaigns via ads that generally balanced populist economics with the myriad social issues that have motivated voters. PAC spokesperson C.J. Warnke recently indicated that across all spots the committee put out this year, economic issues featured in 48 percent of them, abortion in 42 percent, law enforcement in 22 percent, and extremism and the January 6th attack on the Capitol in 19 percent….Perhaps the best case for the centrality of populist economic messaging to Democrats’ success this midterm can be seen through the Democratic incumbents who didn’t succeed. The six sitting House Democrats who lost general-election bids—Cindy Axne, Tom O’Halleran, Al Lawson, Elaine Luria, Tom Malinowski, and Sean Patrick Maloney—are all consummate moderates and members of the centrist New Democrat Coalition. And five of the six ran behind President Biden’s 2020 performance with the voters in their districts; O’Halleran ran about even….Perhaps the biggest surprise winner of the cycle, Washington’s Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, cut a long video with anti-corporate news organization More Perfect Union that went to great lengths to highlight her background as a working-class auto shop owner who would fight to bring jobs back to southwest Washington. In the single ad posted on her campaign’s YouTube page, she made her populist pitch even more directly: “We don’t need another corporate shill or extremist in Congress. I will fight for working-class Washingtonians just like me.”….Democrats found a formula to counteract right-wing populism—if the leadership pays attention to the lessons.”

Teixeira: Democrats’ Hispanic Problem — The Sequel

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

Democrats are feeling pretty good about themselves these days after a 2022 election that went way, way better than they (and most observers) thought it would. Those on the Democratic left, in particular, are congratulating themselves that they were right about…well, everything. Ezra Levin, who co-founded the activist progressive group, Indivisible said:

The great thing about having your strategy being proven correct is that you don’t have to rethink your strategy…We would have, if the red wave materialized. But it didn’t have the potency that we thought.

God forbid anyone should do any rethinking. That would never do.

The fact remains, however, that while they held the Senate (and may possibly pick up a seat), they lost the House, as well as the nationwide popular vote by 3-4 points. That’s a swing of 7-8 points toward the Republicans compared to Biden’s 4 point national advantage in 2020. The Senate map for the Democrats in 2024 looks absolutely terrifying: Democrats will have to hold seats in a wide range of red and purple states—Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia. The Republican seats that will be up are all in solid GOP states, with the possible exceptions of Texas and Florida (and we saw what just happened there). Plus there’s no guarantee that the 2024 Democratic nominee—likely Biden—will get to run again against the Democrats’ preferred opponent, Trump. It could be someone much tougher to take down.

In light of this, it’s worth considering the possibility that Democrats did not, in fact, fix all their problems in 2022 and that some of these may be lurking beneath the surface to undermine their chances—perhaps fatally—in 2024. One such problem is the Democrats’ Hispanic voter problem. In 2020, Democrats’ advantage among Hispanic voters declined nationwide by 16 points relative to 2016. Democrats had hoped to stop the bleeding in 2022. Did they?

It does not appear so. Prior to the election, the AEI demographics tracker, which averages poll subgroup results, found the Democratic Congressional margin among Hispanic voters consistently 7-9 points below its 2020 level and 17-19 points below its 2018 level. Results from AP/NORC VoteCast indicate that the drop in the 2022 election was actually larger than that foreshadowed by the pre-election data. These data show Democrats carrying Hispanics nationwide by just 56-39 in 2022, a 12 point decline in margin relative to 2020 (18 points relative to 2018). For what it’s worth, the less-reliable network exit polls, show an identical decline in Hispanic support between 2020 and 2022.

Digging more into the available data, some other troubling signs can be discerned beneath this broad national trend (all data from VoteCast except election returns).

1. Democrats appeared to have done particularly poorly among Hispanic men in 2022. In the VoteCast data, Democrats carried this group by a scant 6 points (51-45).

2. Democrats did worse among Hispanic working class (noncollege) voters than college voters. They carried Hispanic working class voters by just 15 points, compared to 21 points among their college-educated counterparts. Compared to 2018, Democratic Hispanic working class support is down 20 margin points, more than double the decline among Hispanic college voters (9 points).

3. With a few exceptions like Nevada, Democratic decline in Hispanic support can be seen across states. The most striking example of this is in Florida where DeSantis carried the Hispanic vote by 13 points, a 22 point swing from Biden’s 9 point margin among this group in 2020. He carried heavily Hispanic Miami-Dade county, historically the Democrats’ firewall, by 11 points. He carried Osceola County by almost 7 points—a county where Puerto Ricans, among the most Democratic of Hispanic subgroups, loom large. Shockingly, statewide DeSantis actually split the Puerto Rican vote 50-50 with Democrat Charlie Crist.

4. Democrat Val Demings also lost the Hispanic vote in Florida to Marco Rubio by 11 points. And statewide Democrats lost the Hispanic House vote by 7 points to the Republicans.

5. In Texas, Republicans got 43 percent of the statewide House vote among Hispanics, losing it by only 10 points to the Democrats. Beto O’Rourke did somewhat better than Biden in the Rio Grande Valley but still carried Hispanics statewide by just 14 points.

6. The poor showing of Democrats in the Hispanic Texas House vote was driven by working class Hispanics. They gave Democrats a mere 6 point margin statewide (51-45) compared to 24 points among college Hispanics (61-37). But working class Hispanics are three-quarters of the Texas Hispanic vote.

7. In Arizona, the GOP got 41 percent of the statewide House vote among Hispanics, cutting their deficit with this demographic to 13 points. Democrats’ House margin was down 6 points from Biden’s margin among this group in 2020. Katie Hobbs also ran behind Biden in her Hispanic support while Mark Kelley did a little better. But Kelley’s healthy margin of victory (5 points) is clearly attributable to a sharp improvement in support among white college graduates relative to Biden.

8. Even in California, Democratic House candidates in 2022 ran 11 points behind Biden’s margin in the state in 2020. This decline can be illustrated by looking as some heavily Latino CDs in Los Angeles County (vote counts ongoing): CA-31, Biden +31, 2022 House +16; CA-35, Biden +28, 2022 House +12; CA-38, Biden +30, 2022 House +13; CA-42, Biden +46, 2022 House +34.

These data suggest Democrats are far from out of the woods in terms of their Hispanic voter support. In fact, they indicate the problem is getting worse. More broadly, Democrats would be well-advised to look at these results in the context of their ongoing decline in working class support among nonwhites. AP VoteCast estimates the decline in Democrats’ advantage among the nonwhite working class as 14 points between 2020 and 2022, 23 points between 2018 and 2022 and (splicing in some Catalist data, which are consistent with VoteCast data where they overlap) an astonishing 33 point drop between 2012 and 2022.

I’d say that qualifies as a problem—and one that’s very, very far from being fixed.

More On Florida’s Democratic Meltdown

From “Don’t call Florida a red state yet: Left-leaning groups say their voters stayed home” by Ashley Lopez at nor.org:

Florida Republicans won elections up and down the ballot by staggering margins this year….Dwight Bullard, a former state lawmaker and senior political adviser for a social justice advocacy group called Florida Rising….said he and other groups who predominantly work with Black and Latino voters in Florida — key voting blocs for Democrats — were dealing with unmotivated constituencies and a well-funded and well-organized opposition.

…Anthony Verdugo, founder and executive director of the Christian Family Coalition Florida, said conservative mobilization efforts like his have been working hard for years. He said they really caught a lot of momentum, though, in the past year.

“The governor’s office and the Republican Party focused on a very aggressive voter registration campaign,” he said. “Florida has always — since its founding — been a majority Democrat registered state. December of last year we crossed the threshold.”

Verdugo said his own group registered about 1,300 conservative faith voters in just a three-week period last fall. He also credits Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who he said did an effective job rallying the party’s base by running on a lot of cultural issues. As a result, Verdugo said, Republicans had a more consistent and clearer message for their voters than Democrats.

Joshua Karp, a Democratic strategist, said he’s skeptical that this amounts to a huge political victory led by DeSantis though….”He won about 4.1 million votes four years ago,” Karp said. “He won about 4.6 million votes this time. So, he certainly increased by a few hundred thousand people the size of his coalition. In a state like Florida that’s a few percentage points. What really happened is Democrats did not show up to the polls.”

It’s all about the money

Statewide turnout was down by more than half a million votes compared to 2018. Karp blames a lot of this lack of motivation among Democratic voters in Florida on money.

Tessa Petit, executive director of an immigrants rights group called the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said the electoral arm of her group was pleading with national donors to help them get out the vote. But she and other groups fell millions of dollars short in fundraising.

“The investment went down a lot,” Petit said. “The donors pulled back because I think they kind of — I don’t know maybe they lost faith in the party altogether.”

Four years ago, money was flowing into Florida for groups like the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Petit said. That year, DeSantis won the governor’s race by a mere .04% of the vote.

Petit said this lack of funding is why Miami Dade County in particular saw a 10 percentage point drop in turnout this year compared to the last midterm election. Because of the diversity in the state, she said, it takes a lot of money to get out the vote in communities of color. Petit said this is why national donors should not pick and choose what years to invest here if they want to see results.

“Florida is not a state that you can date,” she said. “You gotta get into a you know — you gotta get into a relationship, a committed relationship with Florida.”

Here’s a couple stat nuggets from Jennifer Borresen’s “DeSantis, Republicans win big: How Florida went from swing state to red state — in visuals” at USA Today:

DeSantis won 57% of the Hispanic vote, compared with 42% for Crist, according to exit polls by major news organizations. And he won not only the traditionally GOP-leaning Cuban-American vote but also Puerto Ricans, who historically tend to vote Democratic.

DeSantis’ strength with Hispanic voters helped him carry Miami-Dade County, a majority Hispanic county.

Since March 16, 2020, an estimated 394,000 active voters have flocked to Florida. According to voter and consumer data tracking firm L2, 193,300 Republicans and 96,900 Democrats have moved to Florida in that time.

If you are wondering if Florida and perhaps Texas Democratic campaign strategists could learn something from the GOTV skills of Georgia’s Democratic activists and candidates, you are not alone.

New Poll: Warnock Ahead With Young Voters, Lagging with Seniors

At The Hill, Chloe Formar reports that a “Huge age gap shows up in AARP poll of Warnock-Walker runoff.” As Formar writes,

A poll released on Tuesday by AARP, an interest group for those aged 50 and older, found a significant age gap in voters’ preferences in the Georgia Senate runoff election between incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and former NFL player Herschel Walker (R).

Warnock leads Walker by 24 percentage points among voters aged 18-49, while Walker leads by 9 points among voters aged 50 or older, according to the poll from AARP Georgia. The two groups differ in their preferences by a total of 33 points.

Former notes that “Respondents aged 65 or older favor Walker over Warnock by 13 points, while that lead shrinks to 4 percentage points among those aged 50-64.” In addition, “Black voters aged 50 and up differ in preference from their age group overall, however, with Warnock holding an 83-point lead over Walker among such respondents.”

Further, “Overall, Warnock leads in the poll of all age groups by 4 percentage points, despite voters aged 50 and older constituting more than 60 percent of likely runoff voters….AARP found that 90 percent of voters 50 and older ranked themselves “extremely motivated” to vote in the runoff, which will take place Dec. 6.”

According g to Formar, “The poll was conducted between November 11 and November 17, with 1,183 likely Georgia voters participating, including 550 voters aged 50 and older.”

Although the Democrats will continue to control the U.S. Senate with at least 50 seats, Warnock’s election would insure that Senate Democrats have working committee majorities and empower Democrats to confirm appointments to the federal judiciary. Also, as Reuters reports via AlJazeera,

Because of the 50-50 Senate divide, committee memberships are currently doled out evenly. These committees oversee a range of federal programmes, from the military and agriculture to homeland security, transportation, healthcare and foreign affairs.

Tied votes in committees on legislation or presidential nominations block, at least temporarily, such measures from advancing to the full Senate. It takes time-consuming procedural manoeuvres to break the committee deadlock so the full chamber can pass bottled-up bills and nominations.

A Warnock win would give Democrats at least one more member on each committee than Republicans, making it harder for Republicans to stand in the way of Biden’s agenda.

That could also provide Democrats with a stronger counter-balance to House Republicans, allowing Senate committees to advance more liberal legislation and nominees that, in turn, could help energize their core voters in the 2024 elections.

The report adds, “If Warnock manages to defeat Walker, he will put the seat in Democratic hands for six years — a full Senate term…” In addition, “A victory by Warnock would mean that Schumer could lose the support of one member of his Democratic caucus and still win floor votes. But he may have less opportunity for flashy moves, as Republicans will hold a narrow majority in the House of Representatives.”

Teixeira: Dems Can’t Count on Trump in 2024

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from The Wall St. Journal:

We’re still waiting for the final results of the 2022 election. But it’s clear that Democrats decisively beat both expectations and the elections’s “fundamentals”—the incumbent party’s usual midterm losses, President Biden’s low approval rating, high inflation, voter negativity on the economy and the state of the country. Republicans look set to take back the House but only by a modest margin. And the Senate will remain in Democratic hands, albeit narrowly.

The Democrats’ relatively good night is attributable, above all, to their secret weapon: Donald Trump. Mr. Trump’s ability to push Republican voters into picking bad, frequently incompetent candidates with extreme positions on issues from the 2020 election to abortion was a disaster for Republicans.

They know it. Scott Jennings, a former deputy to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, tweeted: “How could you look at these results tonight and conclude Trump has any chance of winning a national election in 2024?” Chris Christie, the Republican former New Jersey governor, noted: “We lost in ’18. We lost in ’20. We lost in ’21 in Georgia. And now in ’22 we’re going to net lose governorships. . . . There’s only one person to blame for that, and that’s Donald Trump.” Mike Lawler, a newly elected Republican congressman from New York, suggested the party needed to “move forward” from Mr. Trump.

This rising chorus will create some pressure for change within the GOP. Where might they turn? This election provides an obvious model, which could present a big challenge for Democrats. Call it their Ron DeSantis problem.

In Florida’s gubernatorial election, Mr. DeSantis absolutely crushed his Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist, beating him by 19 points. This landslide included carrying Hispanic voters by 13 points and working-class (noncollege) voters by 27 points. Democrats nationally have been bleeding support from both these voter groups. Since 2018 the Democratic advantage has declined by 18 points among Hispanics, by 17 points among working-class voters and by 23 points among nonwhite working-class voters.

The geographic pattern of results in Florida underscores Mr. DeSantis’s strength. He carried heavily Hispanic Miami-Dade county, historically the Democrats’ firewall, by 11 points. He carried Osceola County by almost 7 points—a county where Puerto Ricans, among the most Democratic of Hispanic subgroups, loom large.

Democrats assumed that Mr. DeSantis’s flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard would disqualify him among Hispanic voters. Evidently not. They also assumed that his sponsorship of a law prohibiting instruction in gender ideology for K-3 children would hurt him politically. Wrong again.

How does Mr. DeSantis do it? By being a smart, disciplined politician who knows how to pick his fights and has a strong sense of public opinion, particularly working-class opinion. I believe his combination of traits—Mr. Trump’s greatest strength, without his greatest weakness—could give the Democrats fits. He would be able to attack them on crime, immigration, race essentialism, gender ideology, inflation and energy prices without presenting the easy target provided by Mr. Trump and his acolytes’ extreme ideas.

Democrats, truth be told, are now in a weird codependent relationship with Mr. Trump. They know—and they are correct in thinking this—that the craziness associated with him is their most effective point of attack against the Republican Party and its candidates. Mr. Trump, of course, loves being the center of controversy.

But this codependent relationship makes the Democrats lazy. Instead of taking stock of their weaknesses and seeking to overcome them, they go back to the well on the evils of Mr. Trump, his nefarious supporters and their election denialism.

Meanwhile, the weaknesses remain. In a pre-election poll conducted by Impact Research for Third Way, respondents preferred Republicans over Democrats by 18 points on the economy and inflation and by 20 points or more on crime and immigration. The poll also found slightly more voters regarded the Democratic Party as “too extreme” (55%) than felt that way about the Republican Party (54%).

These election results seem unlikely to provoke the kind of introspection Democrats need to correct these vulnerabilities, especially among working-class and Hispanic voters. Mr. Biden, cheered on by the left, has already announced that he will do “nothing” differently. This puts them in an exceptionally poor position to address the DeSantis problem. What if 2024 arrives and they no longer have Donald Trump to kick around?

To compound the problem, Democrats are staring down the barrel of an unfavorable Senate map in 2024. Democrats will be defending 23 of the 33 seats in play. Holding those Democratic seats will mean winning in a raft of red and purple states: Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia. The Republican seats that will be up are all in solid GOP states, with the possible exceptions of Texas and Florida (and we saw what just happened there).

Imagine a DeSantis ticket, accompanied by saner, more competent Senate candidates. Are the Democrats prepared for that? I think not. But instead of addressing the problem—or even admitting it exists—they’re counting on Mr. Trump to bail them out. This seems exceptionally foolish. It’s also morally reprehensible: They’re trading a better chance of winning for the possibility that Mr. Trump might become president again.

Mr. Teixeira is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a co-editor of the Liberal Patriot, a Substack newsletter.

Dems Gain Leverage in State Governments

At FiveThirtyEight, Nathaniel Rakich explores the impact of Democratic gains in state governments as a result of the midterm elections, and writes:

Abortion bans, right-to-work laws, voting restrictions — for years, a lot of the major legislation coming out of state capitols has been conservative. But after Democrats’ clear victory in state-level elections last week, landmark liberal policies could be coming to a state near you.

For the first time in years, more Americans will live in a state fully controlled by Democrats than in one fully controlled by Republicans.1 Thanks to their wins in gubernatorial or state-legislative elections, Democrats2 took complete control of three new state governments in the 2022 elections: Michigan, Minnesota and Vermont. They broke the GOP monopoly on power in Arizona and, potentially, New Hampshire.3 They also kept full control of state government in four of the five states where they were in danger of losing it. And they prevented Republicans from taking full control of North Carolina, Wisconsin and maybe even Alaska.

Republicans, on the other hand, didn’t flip a single legislative chamber from blue to red. This is the first midterm election since at least 1934 that the president’s party hasn’t lost a state-legislative chamber, according to Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post. And though it didn’t affect who controlled state government, Democrats flipped the Maryland and Massachusetts governorships and maybe the Pennsylvania state House.4

Democrats’ most significant win was probably Michigan. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was reelected, and Democrats took control of the state House for the first time since 2011 and the state Senate for the first time since 1984. Democrats won the popular vote for the Michigan state House in 2012, 2014, 2018 and 2020 but fell short of a majority each time because of state-legislative maps that favored Republicans.

The one major loss at the state level, according to Rakich was that “Democrats lost total control of just one state government this year. In Nevada, Republican Joe Lombardo defeated Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak in the gubernatorial race.” But, Dems held on to “Colorado, Maine, New Mexico and Oregon after winning the governorship and state legislature in each.”

As for the strategic implications, Rakich concludes, “State governments are often called the “laboratories of democracy” because they often pass ambitious or innovative policies before the federal government does. But with control of Washington, D.C., now split between Democrats and Republicans after the midterms, they could be the only places where meaningful policies are passed for the next two years.”

Yglesias: Midterms Lessons, Bipartisan Prospects

In his slowboring.com newsletter, Matthew Yglesias shares observations about where he was wrong regarding some of the 2022 midterm campaigns. He reviews the history of the 2022 midterm campaigns, considers what he has learned from mistakes and looks toward the future with some hopes, including:

  • “I thought student loan relief was costing Democrats politically. This was dumb on my part. I thought this was a bad policy on the merits, and I let that cloud my judgment. I knew all along that the specific thresholds the White House picked in terms of means-testing and how much debt was forgiven were either heavily workshopped with pollsters or else by remarkable coincidence lined up with what pollsters told me was optimal for public opinion. I argued that the impact on inflation offset this kind of superficial read from the polls, but no loans have actually been forgiven yet, so it’s simply not possible that would happen. This was wrong, and I should have known it was wrong.
  • I also thought that Dobbs wasn’t hurting Republicans as much as it should have, because Democrats were refusing to give any ground to the popularity of restrictions on late-term abortions. I do stand by the idea that this is a political error, but Democrats’ television ads about abortion rights were extremely well-crafted and that let them really punish the GOP on this without moderating their stance.
  • This relates to my third error, which is that I’ve often accused Democrats of overrating what can be achieved with paid media versus through positioning in the free press. I continue to believe that earned media matters more than paid — see Jared Golden winning in a very tough seat despite being outspent because he got coverage for taking moderate stances — but paid media is more effective than I thought. Catherine Cortez Masto did basically nothing outside of her advertising to be anything other than a totally generic Democrat, and it worked out.”

Yglesias adds, “In life, it’s important to guard against overcorrection. I think a lot of people had exaggerated ideas about “firing up” young voters with student loan forgiveness or the ability to work miracles with pure campaign work. But that led me to tilt too far in the other direction. Democrats skated close to a real danger zone with this midterm, but in the end it worked out fine thanks to some very skillful political work and some good luck.”

Regarding prospects for bipartisan reform, Yglesias writes, “The left significantly underrated the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act rather than admitting they were wrong. And while the CHIPS and Science Act that ultimately emerged wasn’t as good as the original Endless Frontier proposal, it’s still a good law. I’m hopeful we can still get a bipartisan permitting reform bill done in the lame duck, there has been a lot of bipartisan legislating relating to Ukraine, and broadly speaking, it has been nice to see a functioning legislative process.”