washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

staff

Teixeira: Jon Tester Channels Woody Allen

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

Allen once said, “80 percent of success is showing up”. Want to win in rural areas? Try showing up, says Jon Tester. From an interview in the Times:

“I think showing up is a fundamental rule of politics, and I don’t know that we showed up. Because of Covid, we didn’t show up on the campaign trail. And in a state like Montana, you have to give people a reason to vote for you or they’ll vote Republican — they’ll default to Republican. And I think that hurt us greatly in 2020. The Republicans, for the most part, didn’t see the pandemic as near as a threat to health as some of the Democrats did.”

On going on the offensive in rural America:

“Democrats can really do some positive things in rural America just by talking about infrastructure and what they’re doing for infrastructure, particularly in the area of broadband. And then I would say one other policy issue is how some Republicans want to basically privatize public education. That is very dangerous, and I think it’s a point that people don’t want to see their public schools close down in Montana.”
On connecting with rural voters:

“I can go into the list of things that might be insane about this president, but the truth is that rural people connect more with a millionaire from New York City than they do with the Democrats that are in national positions.

So that tells me our message is really, really flawed, because I certainly don’t see it that way.

We do not have a — what do I want to say — a well-designed way to get our message out utilizing our entire caucus. So we need to do more of that. You cannot have Chuck Schumer talking rural issues to rural people; it ain’t gonna sell.”

Why Obama did relatively well in rural America:

“You know where Barack Obama spent Fourth of July in 2008?

Butte, Mont. He showed up. Now, he didn’t win much in it, but he did a hell of a lot better than people thought he was going to do because he showed up.

What has happened in Montana as far as losing Max Baucus’s seat, and in North Dakota and in South Dakota, I think speaks to the fact that we’re not speaking to rural America. And look, Steve Bullock lost [this year’s Senate race in Montana] for a number of reasons. One was they nationalized it. They totally nationalized his race. They tried to do it to me, too. What I had that Steve didn’t have was there wasn’t a damn pandemic, and I could go out. And we did, man. We showed people that I was not A.O.C., for Christ’s sake.”

Tester’s recommendation for a bumper sticker Democratic slogan: “Opportunity for everyone”

Not bad.


It’s On in GA

In her article, “Georgia Senate Runoffs: More Voters Turn Out For First Day Of Early Voting Than For General Election” Jemima McEvoy writes at Forbes:

Nearly 169,000 Georgians cast ballots on Monday, the first day of early voting in the state’s Senate runoff elections—a massive number that surpasses even that of the general election’s early voting kickoff and demonstrates the wave of enthusiasm for a pair of races that will determine the makeup of the Senate.

According to data cited by voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, who has been leading the Democratic party’s efforts to rally support in Georgia, 168,293 state residents voted on Monday, which is nearly 30,000 more than the number of votes cast on the first day of day of early voting in the November general election (140,000)….Over the weekend, Abrams told CNN that the Democratic party is confident in its ability to win the two runoff elections, having already seen massive interest in absentee ballots and a surge in enthusiasm from voters whose demographics signal enthusiasm for Democratic candidates.

However, McEvoy adds, “Taking into account the 314,000 Georgians who have already cast their ballots by mail, this means over 480,000 of the state’s 10.6 million residents have voted in the Senate runoffs to date….Overall, the general election had still enticed 24% more voters by this point for a total of 633,990 votes due to the whopping 484,000 ballots sent by mail….there is no way to tell which party has cast more early votes.”

McEvoy notes that “1.2 million. That’s the number of Georgians who have requested absentee ballots for the Senate runoffs, according to Abrams….“Of that 1.2 million, 85,000 are from voters who did not vote in the general election and they are disproportionately between the ages of 18 and 29 and disproportionately people of color,” said Abrams, adding: “Democrats are prepared to win this election because this is the first runoff where we have the level of investment and engagement that it takes to win.” Further,

An average of polls on the Georgia runoffs compiled by data-focused news site FiveThirtyEight put the parties nearly neck-and-neck in both races. Ossoff leads Purdue by 1 point, while Warnock has a slightly larger lead of 1.6 over Loeffler, though pollsters warn against putting too much stock in these limited measures of public opinion. President Trump’s loss in the state, flipping Georgia blue for the first time since 1992, has also added a new level of intensity to the runoffs, with both sides wondering whether the general election represented a rejection of the Republican party—or of Trump. Continuing to insist voter fraud led to a rigged election, Trump and his allies have been walking a potentially damaging line, recently attempting to leverage his fanbase in the state to gain institutional support for his attempts to overturn the election’s results. Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn advised the GOP to focus on the general election over the Senate runoffs, while Trump appeared to threaten his own support for the Republican candidates on Monday, warning on Twitter that if Georgia’s Republican governor doesn’t help him remedy the election’s results it will be a “bad day” for Loeffler and Purdue. It “could have been easy, but now we have to do it the hard way,” wrote Trump.

The edge that the Democratic candidates get from Georgia GOP divisions could be offset by an energetic turnout of conservative evangelicals. But at least it appears that voter enthusiasm among Georgia Democrats and party unity is solidly on track. No doubt Mitch McConnell is calling in all his credits with contributors and his political connections. But, while there were deep suspicions regarding the integrity of the vote count in the 2018 Governor’s race in Georgia, the state’s Republican leaders know that the Biden Administration DOJ and other law enforcement agencies will not be giving any free rides for any ballot-counting or voter suppression violations in the January 5th runoff.


Teixeira: What Do You Mean “We,” Progressive Activists?

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

Progressive activists often seem unaware of how far some of their core assumptions and inclinations are from average Americans, including among disadvantaged groups like blacks and Hispanics in whose name they often presume to speak. This can be seen in the new release from the More in Common group, who term their new series their American Fabric series, following on from their Hidden Tribes series.

The new study, as their did previous ones, divides the American population into groups using on an underlying factor analysis of core beliefs. One of their groups–literally termed “progressive activists”–is 8 percent of the population and is described as: “deeply concerned with issues concerning equity, fairness, and America’s direction today. They tend to be more secular, cosmopolitan, and highly engaged with social media.”

They don’t provide a detailed demographic breakdown of this or other groups (which is a mistake in my opinion) but a previous study provided more detail on the progressive activist group as they compare to overall averages.

–More than twice as likely to list politics as a hobby – 73% V. 35%
– Three times more likely to say that people’s outcomes are the result of “luck and circumstance” – 75% V. 25%
– Less likely to believe the world is becoming a “more and more dangerous place” – 19% V. 38%
– More than twice as likely to say that they never pray – 50% V. 19%
– Almost three times more likely to be “ashamed to be an American” – 69% V. 24%
– More likely to say they are proud of their political ideology – 63% V. 46%
– Eleven percent more likely to be white – 80% V. 69%
– Seven percent more likely to be between ages 18 and 29 – 28% V. 21%
– Twice as likely to have completed college – 59% V. 29%

Hmm. Sounds like a pretty familiar type right? The new report shows, among other things, how far progressive activists’ attitude toward their own country departs from not just from that of average Americans but from average black and Hispanic Americans as well. Black and Hispanic Americans are highly likely to be proud to be Americans and highly likely to say they would still choose to live in America if they could choose to live anywhere in the world. On both questions, progressive activists are far, far less likely to express these sentiments (see charts below).

I think these differences are not just large but significant. They underscore the extent to which cosmopolitan, highly educated, overwhelmingly white progressives have detached themselves from the rest of the country. No wonder the average voter doesn’t want to hang around with them.


Ari Berman: Why Dems Have a Good Chance to Win GA Runoffs

At Mother Jones, Ari Berman explains why “Runoff Elections in Georgia Are Disasters for Democrats. Here’s Why This Time Is Different. Organizing against voter suppression and high turnout in November are giving Democrats hope“:

Democrats have believed for some time that a rapidly diversifying electorate would allow them to be competitive in Georgia, but repeated voter suppression efforts had kept that electorate from fully forming. Now, two years of determined organizing against voter suppression created the conditions for Joe Biden to carry the state by just under 12,000 votes, making him the first Democratic presidential candidate in 28 years to win Georgia.

“There were still long lines, there were still problems with absentee balloting,” says Lauren Groh-Wargo, CEO of the voting rights group Fair Fight Action and Abrams’ campaign manager in 2018. “But the collective work on litigation, advocacy, voter education, voter suppression mitigation that we and so many allies did really ensured that there was a multi-ethnic, multi-racial coalition that could come out to support Joe Biden.”

Berman notes, further:

The electorate in 2020 was the one Abrams envisioned in 2018. People of color made up nearly 40 percent of all voters, and Biden won roughly 70 percent of their votes. He improved on [Democratic candidate for governor Stacy] Abrams’ margin in eight counties in metro Atlanta, building a remarkably diverse coalition of new voters, young voters, people of color, and moderate white suburbanites. According to an analysis by the Democratic data firm Target Smart, Asian American turnout increased by 91 percent from 2016 to 2020, Latino turnout by 72 percent, and Black turnout by 20 percent, while white turnout grew by just 16 percent.

Between 2016 and 2020, 1 million new voters were registered through Georgia’s system of automatic voter registration at motor vehicle offices and registration drives by grassroots groups. Two-thirds of them were people of color. Amazingly, the number of eligible but unregistered Georgians fell from 22 percent in 2016 to just 2 percent in 2020.

“In addition to high-profile organizing work by Abrams and her allies,” Berman writes, “many restrictive voting rules that led to disenfranchisement in 2018 were also reformed through litigation and advocacy.” For example:

In 2020, it was harder for election officials to throw out mail ballots for mismatched signatures, and voters had a chance to fix problems with their ballots after Election Day. In 2018, Black and Latino voters were more likely than white voters to have their mail ballots rejected, and young voters were more likely than older voters. The overall rejection rate for mail ballots fell from 3.4 percent in 2018 to just .2 percent in November.

Counties in metro Atlanta processed absentee ballots more quickly and made their designs less confusing. When the secretary of state removed 300,000 voters who he claimed had died or moved from the rolls in December 2019, Fair Fight sued and reinstated 22,000 voters who were still eligible to vote. A law mandating that early voting locations be in government buildings was repealed, allowing the Atlanta Hawks’ arena to become a massive polling place in downtown Atlanta.

Berman notes that “groups like Fair Fight contacted 1 million voters a week urging them to make a plan to vote early, either in person or by mail. “When I would go to the polls, I would hear, ‘We’re not going to let them steal this one,’” says [Black Voters matter Founder Latosha] Brown. “That’s why I think you had so many people vote early.” Eighty percent of Georgians voted early, leading to many fewer problems on Election Day. It was by no means perfect—there were 11-hour lines on the first day of early voting in Atlanta—but people stood in line to make sure their votes were counted.”

Looking toward January 5th, “A million mail-in ballots have been requested for the runoff, an impressive number considering that 1.3 million people voted by mail in November. “I don’t think we’ll approach the numbers for the general, but I do think we’ll exceed turnout rates for any runoff we’ve seen in recent Georgia history,” [New Georgia Project Director Nse] Ufot says.”

Perhaps the biggest threat to Democratic hopes for the January 5th run-off is the closing of polling places in large counties like Cobb, ostensibly because of inadequate trained staff for the polls. That’s why the Georgia activists are emphasizing early voting by mail, which is on track to set a runoff record.


Teixeira: The Democrats’ Big Problem Is Now Obvious

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 culture. Put very simply, the culture that dominates the party makes it very difficult for the party to reach–or perhaps even to understand that it must reach–the voters it needs to succeed politically. Begin with this piece by Sheri Berman on party “representation gaps”.

“A disconnect exists between the preferences of voters and the stances of the Democratic Party on social and cultural issues, while an equivalent chasm exists for Republicans on economic matters. Both are facing what political scientists call a “representation gap.”

A majority of voters, including many Republicans, support Democratic, even progressive, positions on economic issues including tax policy, healthcare, education, the minimum wage and more. But on crucial non-economic issues, voters are moderate, and the Democratic Party’s stances—in particular those of its progressive activists regarding illegal immigration and border security, police reform, “political correctness,” gender identity, sexual harassment and affirmative action—are unpopular, even among many Democratic voters.”

Berman details four possible responses by parties to such representation gaps: avoidance, intransigence, concession and persuasion. She recommends persuasion:

“Here, the party attempts to close the representation gap by trying to move voters closer to its policies. Changing people’s preferences requires openly grappling with the unpopularity of particular policies, and engaging with those who disagree, rather than disparaging or ignoring them.

Successful engagement means avoiding language and behavior that can be easily misunderstood or trigger fears in voters, and can be exploited by opponents. Progressive activists erred by ignoring this, with some describing themselves as “socialists,” embracing the slogan “defund the police,” and failing to denounce looting and violence that accompanied some protests—behavior that scared some voters away from the Democratic Party. Above all, the persuasion strategy requires patience since shifting voters’ preferences and priorities takes time.

One disadvantage of the persuasion strategy is obvious: It is the most difficult. But its advantages are great. It is the only strategy that reconciles idealism with realism, joining a commitment to currently unpopular but prized policies with a recognition that realizing such policies first requires winning elections.”

And winning elections–enough of the right type of elections–is very difficult for Democrats in the actually-existing electoral system of the United States (not the dream system frequently invoked by progressives). Derek Thompson in the Atlantic:

“As Democrats like to point out, they have won the national popular vote seven times in the past eight presidential elections, along with a majority of ballots cast nationwide in six of the past eight Senate elections. But national vote tallies don’t count for anything under our constitutional rules. Liberals can (and do) complain about this all day, but saying “If the Constitution didn’t exist, Capitol Hill would be mostly Democrats” is like saying “If the weak nuclear force didn’t exist, the galaxy would be mostly photons.” Neat, but so what?…

“We have an election system that makes it basically impossible for Democrats’ current coalition to ever wield legislative power,” the polling analyst David Shor told Politico….If Democrats don’t find a way to broaden their coalition into less populous states with smaller metro areas, it may be impossible to pass liberal laws for the next generation.”

This is above all a cultural problem.

“Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times published an analysis of California ballot measures that found that “the state’s two major population centers have grown more and more different” from the rest of the state. Residents of Los Angeles and the Bay Area were at least 30 percentage points more likely than other Californians to support various propositions, such as reinstating affirmative action and allowing parolees to vote….

This phenomenon is not specific to California; it is evident across the country. America’s richest and most progressive cities—from San Francisco to New York and Washington, D.C.—have filled with young, unmarried, “extremely online” graduates of elite colleges, who have collectively birthed a novel philosophy you could call “Instagram socialism.” Instagram socialists are highly educated, but not necessarily high-earning, urbanites who shop like capitalists and post like Marxists and frequently do so in adjacent tabs. Many of their causes are virtuous, such as universal health care and higher pay for low-income service workers. But given the dynamics of online communication, which prizes extremity, Instagram socialism usually functions as a crowd-sourcing exercise to brand widely appealing ideas in their most emotional and viral—and, therefore, most radical—fashion. Thus, major police reform (a popular idea) is branded “Abolish the Police” (an unpopular idea); a welcoming disposition toward immigrants (a popular idea) is blurred with calls for open borders (an unpopular idea); and universal health care (a popular idea) is folded into socialism (an unpopular idea)….

The urban-online core of the Democratic Party is arguably its most fecund source of new ideas, but it has evolved to become a kind of third party whose ideology and tone are not a good fit for the typical swing voter toggling between the two major parties. The “culture problem” of liberals’ urban dominance also has important implications for the media. As national politics has polarized according to youth, education, and density, the news industry has become particularly young, educated, and densely packed into a handful of cities. Thus people who work in national journalism (like me, a resident of Washington, D.C.) tend to have a set of strongly held views about the world that are artifacts of their zip code. America’s most progressive metros are becoming politically unusual at the same time that national journalists are less capable of seeing how unusual they have become.”

In other words, party activists are increasingly ill-equipped to successfully reach out to the rest of the country that doesn’t share their views–or indeed to even realize how far they need to reach to do so.
Thompson concludes:

“In the past 100 years, Democrats have transformed from a largely rural party to a coalition of density and diplomas—a political handshake between the cities and highly educated suburbs. To win not only the presidency but also legislative majorities, Democrats will have to turn back the clock and refamiliarize themselves with Americans who live outside denser zip codes where Democrats currently dominate. They will have to rediscover the right balance between their progressive urban core and the moderate exurban frontier—between metro and retro.”

In some ways it is very easy to explain how this unfortunate state of affairs arose: it is all about the increasing domination of college-educated whites in Democratic politics. This has several strands to it:

1. There are simply more of them in the party’s support base, due to their rise in numbers and significant shift into the Democratic party. Their weight in the Democratic coalition is now much larger than it was 30 years ago.
2. They are heavily over-represented in the donor base of the party.
3. They are heavily over-represented in media that cover the activities of the party and give it publicity.
4. They literally run the party on a day to day basis, providing the professionals who staff the infrastructure and run for office.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that the culture of this demographic group increasingly dominates the party. But that it is understandable does not make it desirable. The party cannot achieve the success it desires without competing more successfully in rural, small town and less densely-populated parts of the country, which have disproportionate political influence and where noncollege whites are especially numerous. And it cannot compete successfully in these areas without moving out of its current cultural comfort zone. Indeed, we are now getting to the point where even Democrats’ hold on noncollege nonwhites may be threatened by the cultural dominance of educated whites.

I’ll give the final word to data scientist David Shor: “The big-picture problem is that the Democratic Party is increasingly reflecting the cultural values and political preferences of educated white people…Culturally, working-class nonwhite people have more in common with working-class white people.”

That’s it in a nutshell. A serious course correction is in order.


GA Runoff Poll Favors Dems

From “Warnock leading Loeffler, other Georgia Senate runoff race deadlocked: poll” by Marina Pitofsky at The Hill:

Democrat the Rev. Raphael Warnock holds a lead over GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler (Ga.) in a poll of one of two Georgia runoff races that will determine the balance of the Senate.

Warnock leads Loeffler 52 percent to 45 percent in a new poll from SurveyUSA commissioned by WXIA-TV in Atlanta.

The poll, released Thursday, also shows that Democrat John Ossoff is narrowly leading Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) 50 percent to the Republican’s 48 percent in the state’s other runoff election that will take place in January. 

The poll respondents included 850 Georgians, with 717 RVs and 583 LVs. A couple of demographic breakdown nuggets:

White voters in the Peach State gave Perdue a 43-point lead and Loeffler a 37-point lead, according to the poll. Among Black voters, Ossoff led in his runoff race with an 87-point advantage and Warnock with an 83-point advantage.

Men gave Perdue a 10-point lead over Ossoff and Loeffler a 9-point lead over Warnock. Women gave Ossoff an 11-point lead over Perdue, as well as a 19-point advantage for Warnock.

Of course it will all come down to turnout, and Democratic hopes ride on an energetic GOTV effort spearheaded by Georgia’s activist groups and divisions in the state GOP’s rank and file. Georgia is currently being blanketed by a fierce ad war from both parties.  Georgians and out-of-state volunteers who want to help the Democratic effort can find suggestions here and a guide to making donations here.


Teixeira: Quit Whining and Figure Out How to Win!

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 sub-optimal down-ballot election results has come the predictable loud complaints from the left about the structure of the American electoral system especially, of course, the Senate. There is no doubt that given the current distribution of partisan preferences the structure of the Senate disadvantages the Democrats. And there is no doubt that if you were designing a fair electoral system from scratch, you probably wouldn’t have the Senate in its current incarnation.

But, in the immortal words of James Earl Carter, Jr., there are many things in life that are not fair–and this is one of them! However, that structure is not likely to change anytime soon so Democrats need to suck it up and figure out how to win with the structure they’ve got. Jeff Greenfield makes the argument well in a recent Washington Post piece.

“The Senate isn’t quite the unsolvable problem that Democratic critics think it is. The chamber’s current Republican tilt is political, not structural — and it could be overcome without any changes to the Constitution. The Democrats just have to start winning elections….

If the Senate’s small-state bias is locked in, that doesn’t mean the upper chamber is destined to remain a GOP bastion. This year, Republicans minimized their potential losses in the Senate by winning every seat in states that went for President Trump, probably retaining control. But you don’t have to look very far back in the past to find Democrats regularly winning Senate seats in states that vote deeply crimson at the presidential level. North Dakota had two Democrats in the Senate from 1987 through 2011, and one until 2019. Both of Montana’s senators were Democrats from 2007 to 2015, and one was reelected just two years ago. Until the 2014 midterms, Democrats held seats from Alaska, Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina, Iowa and South Dakota….

None of [Democrats’] hopes for altering its imbalance — granting statehood to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, killing the filibuster, ending conservative domination of the federal bench — can happen unless Democrats first take the upper chamber, which essentially means winning the battle on a Republican-tilted playing field.

But that’s a political problem, not a structural one. And it’s solvable: Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) have been elected and reelected; are they the only Democrats who can win in increasingly red states? Is it impossible to imagine, for example, that a candidate who acknowledged the failure of both parties to stem the economic decline of the working class might strike a responsive chord? Might a candidate find a way to insulate herself against the more provocative arguments of more progressive Democrats, like “defund the police,” while emphasizing the economic-fairness arguments that bridge the gap between the party’s wings? If Democrats could hold 60 Senate seats 11 years ago, is a return to the majority really beyond reach?”

Difficult but not impossible. So time to stop the whining and figure out ways of winning in places Democrats have been losing. As Greenfield notes:

‘[Democrats] cannot build a time machine to bring them back to 1789, so that they can stiffen James Madison’s spine against the small states’ demands. They cannot erase Article V from the Constitution. They probably cannot persuade Mike Bloomberg and other billionaires to pay for the resettlement of a few hundred thousand Californians and New Yorkers to the Dakotas. They have no choice, then, but to find the messages and the organizing tools that can break through that new red wall that stands between their national majority and the power to govern.”

Greenfield is correct. There is no choice but to do exactly that.


Charlie Cook: GA Senate Races ‘Very, Very Close’

From “The Double Went Down to Georgia” by Charlie Cook at The Cook Political Report:

Don’t expect much ticket splitting in the Peachtree State. Putting the Georgia races aside, in every Senate race this year, save the one in Maine, voters chose the same party for president and Senate. In 2016, every single Senate and presidential contest went the same way.

Simply put, anyone voting for Republican incumbent David Perdue in the race for the full-term, regularly scheduled Senate race is almost certainly going to vote for the appointed Senate incumbent, Kelly Loeffler, in the special-election runoff, and vice versa. Anyone voting for Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff in the regular-seat contest is also likely to vote for Raphael Warnock in the special, and vice versa. These two pairs are package deals.

And the races are going to be very, very close.

Cook explains further,

On Nov. 3, with 4.9 million votes cast, Perdue pulled 49.7 percent of the vote, Ossoff 48 percent, and Libertarian Shane Hazel 2.3 percent. Warnock, the pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church (where both Martin Luther King Sr. and Martin Luther King Jr. preached), pulled 32.9 percent of the vote, and seven other Democrats pulled 15.5 percent, bringing the Democratic total to 48.4 percent. Loeffler won 25.9 percent of the vote, Rep. Doug Collins another 19.9 percent, and four other GOP contenders pulled 3.5 points for a GOP total of 49.3 percent—nine-tenths of a point more.

Factor in Joe Biden’s 14,000-vote win (pending the recount) in the state, and toss in the 1.4-point margin between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams in the gubernatorial race two years ago, and a good case can be made that Georgia is the most evenly divided state in the country.

Cook shares some of Georgia’s political history since the early 1990s, then writes:

Will Trump supporters be mad as hell, looking for vengeance as they turn out in big numbers, or demoralized that their guy lost? Conversely, will Democratic voters be satisfied having slain their nemesis and stay home, or will their big win atop the ticket make them want more?

The truth is that we don’t know. I just expect a very, very close race, with virtually no votes separating the support levels of either Republican incumbent or the two Democratic challengers. Double or nothing—no splits!

That’s a hell of a bet. But the good news is that one of the top political analysts in America sees a two Senate seat pick-up for Democrats in toss-up territory. Both parties are already flooding the state with money and ads. Given all at stake, let it not be said that Dems got outworked.


Teixeira: Georgia On My Mind

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

There are two questions to address: What happened in Georgia? And what will happen in Georgia?

Neither question is particularly easy to answer. But since predictions are hard, especially about the future, I’ll take the first one first.

To repeat something I’ve said before, the available survey data aren’t great and while we have good county-level and now precinct level data, these data are susceptible to the ecological fallacy, when aggregate geographic patterns are used to infer the behavior of voter groups contained with the aggregates.

OK then. Here we go!

Biden won GA by .3 percentage points and a little under 13,000 votes, so every gain he made anywhere was important.

1. Turnout. Data sources agree that turnout was up sharply in GA, including black turnout, but that the increase in turnout among blacks was less than the increase in turnout among non-blacks; therefore the black share of voters actually declined relative to 2016.

2. Black voter margins. An 2016-2020 exit poll comparison and a VoteCast 2020/States of Change (SOC) 2016 comparison disagree. The exit polls indicate that the black Democratic margin in GA dropped from +80 to +77. But the other comparison shows the black Democratic margin rising from +80 to +86.

Precinct-level analysis reported by Nate Cohn (shown below) shows a 2 point margin gain (the two party vote share shifts have to be doubled) in majority black precincts and a 1 point decline in precincts more than 80 percent black. So this is inconclusive.

3. White voter margins. All data sources agree that there was a very sharp movement of white voters overall toward the Democrats. But which white voters?

4. White college voters. Data sources agree there were strong margin gains for Biden among white college voters in GA. The exit polls are particularly gaudy, indicating a 30 point margin gain. That seems too high, but very strong gains are consistent with the county and precinct data.

5. White noncollege voters. Both the exit polls and the VoteCast/SOC comparison suggest significant white noncollege Democratic margin gains–+7 in the former and +10 in the latter. However, the county and precinct data also suggest gains, but more modest gains; note the 2 point pro-Democratic margin shift in the white noncollege areas shown below.

So every little bit helped! Can this coalition stay together to elect two Democratic Senators? The polls say it’s possible–though these days we can be forgiven for not knowing what to make of this (though GA Presidential polls were actually pretty decent). Black turnout that outpaced white turnout would certainly help. I guess I’m still a bit skeptical this can really happen but I can think of no better way to make the case that it’s a still a strong possibility than reading this piece of Sean Trende, the excellent conservative political analyst.

“Control of the Senate is going to come down to two Jan. 5 runoffs in Georgia. Sen. David Perdue came a hair’s breadth from winning his race against Jon Ossoff outright, but ultimately fell just short of 50% plus one. Sen. Kelly Loeffler will face off against the Rev. Raphael Warnock to complete the term of former Sen. Johnny Isakson (the reward for the winner is running again in two years for the full term).

Somewhat surprisingly, articles discussing these races have framed the races to claim that Republicans are favored in both. Politico declares that Democrats begin behind the eight ball, while other pieces casually cast Republicans as “likely” or “probable” victors in the Peach State.

I’m not sure that is correct, and would view these races as pure tossups from the start. Here are six reasons why.”

They’re pretty interesting reasons! Check it out.