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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Why Trump’s Racist Pandering May Not Help Him Much in 2020

University of Pennsylvania poly sci professor Dan Hopkins explains “Why Trump’s Racist Appeals Might Be Less Effective In 2020 Than They Were In 2016” at FiveThirtyEight:

Looking at that panel survey I used in the Political Behavior study, we can see how the relationship between white respondents’ prejudice and their presidential intentions has changed. In the January 2020 survey wave, the poll included a question about a potential Trump-Biden general election match-up. And respondents who reported especially high levels of prejudice back in 2012 were roughly as firmly with Trump as of this January as they had been in fall 2016.4

But notice the histogram at the bottom, which show how many respondents registered each level of prejudice: The high-prejudice portion of the white electorate where Trump was clearly outperforming Romney accounts for roughly a quarter of all white respondents (to say nothing of nonwhite voters or voters too young to appear in a 12-year-old panel). Further activating this group is likely to have diminishing returns for Trump because there aren’t many of them and they are already strongly behind the president. By contrast, white voters with lower levels of prejudice are far more numerous, and also less likely to be with Trump than in 2016. In other words, Trump has far more room to increase his support among the larger number of white Americans with lower levels of prejudice.

Remember, this wave of the panel was conducted in January — before COVID-19 and, crucially, before the protests following the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the shooting of Jacob Blake. The protests may have changed the relationship between racial attitudes and voting in ways not detected in this survey. But the evidence to date suggests that, if anything, the protests may have continued to push white Americans’ racial attitudes in a liberal direction. And as Tesler contends, Democrats are now arguably more unified on race-related issues than Republicans, meaning that relative to 2016, there are fewer voters with the mix of attitudes that might make them responsive to racial appeals. Other issues, like the coronavirus and the government’s response, have also crowded the political agenda, limiting Trump’s ability to change the subject.

True, Grimmer and Marble disagree with Sides, Tesler and Vavreck on the role racial attitudes played in 2016. But when looking ahead to 2020, the researchers are more in agreement. In an email, Grimmer offered a conclusion similar to Tesler’s, noting that “in 2016, Trump was already winning almost all of the declining fraction of voters who are highest in racial resentment. So he has a lot more room for growth among those in the middle of the racial resentment scale, both in terms of turning out and choosing him over Biden.”

It’s surely too soon to count Trump out. But if Trump does win reelection in November, it’s very likely to be due to gains with white voters lower in prejudice or with nonwhite voters. Using racist appeals and racialized wedge issues won him support most clearly in the 2016 GOP primary. But there are key differences between that contest and the 2020 general election — differences that may make racial appeals less impactful this year. And judging from the RNC’s periodic efforts to counter the charge that Trump is racially divisive, some of its planners seem to agree.

Trump’s racial fear-mongering may or may not gain him some support from voters with lower levels of racial resentment. Yet his support from this group may be limited further by the number of voters who are not willing to overlook his failure to address the pandemic and it’s disastrous effect on their economic well-being.

Teixeira: Yes, Democrats Really Do Need the White Working Class

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

As I have repeatedly noted, the primary driver of Biden’s relatively large lead in the polls and in battleground states is Biden’s improved performance relative to Clinton ’16 among white working class voters. If the race tightens–I mean, really tightens, not the modest changes we’re seeing right now–it will likely be because Biden’s relatively good performance among these voters erodes.

If that’s not enough to convince you how important these voters are I commend to you my friend Andy Levison’s terrific new piece on Does The Democratic Coalition Really Need the White Working Class? Read the whole thing. He makes a very compelling case for a Democratic “big tent” strategy that includes these voters. Here’s the conclusion of his essay:

“The political arguments for the urgent need to build a broad or commanding “big tent” Democratic majority are well known:

a. Without winning the Senate and State Legislatures as well as the presidency Democrats will not be able to prevent more attacks on democratic institutions or advance an agenda that can win them enduring popular support.

b. With Trump’s demagogic claims that the election will be stolen, even a very solid Democratic victory in the popular vote and the electoral college will be rejected by many Trump supporters. To gain legitimacy, a Democratic victory will have to be so clear and decisive that it convinces even Trump’s supporters that it is valid.

But beyond this, there is a deeper sociological reason why a big tent coalition is indispensable. At the present time America is deeply divided between educated, diverse people living in urban, metropolitan areas on the one hand and overwhelmingly white working class people, many living in Red States, rural areas and small towns.

This deep separation creates the sociological foundation for political extremism. When people live in the same areas and communities and share schools, sporting events, parks and streets they tend to see each other as neighbors. When a deep social distance divides them, they can easily come to see each other as aliens and strangers.

So long as the Democratic and Republican parties shared a fairly wide degree of consensus, as they did in the post-World War II era, people saw members of the opposite party as “normal” people who were their friends and neighbors and with whom they socialized in daily life—at PTA meetings, Little League games and a host of other shared activities.

As the social and demographic character of Democrats and Republicans began to diverge in the 1970’s and 1980’s, on the other hand, it became easier for right wing demagogues in the GOP to portray Democrats as subversive, sinister and even evil rather than as fellow Americans with whom one just happens to somewhat disagree.

Each successive stage of this evolution has been more grotesque than the last. In the 1990’s Fox News, Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh began the process of demonizing the Democrats, but the resulting militia movement remained a fringe phenomenon, especially after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1998. After Obama’s election new and more extreme demagogues like Glen Beck and Breitbart provided the ideology for the much larger Tea Party movement. Now Trump has legitimized the worst extremism ever seen in America, ranging from the conspiracy theories of Q-anon to the proud and open neo-fascists marching in Charlottesville and his own paranoid fantasies.

In this context, increasing the presence of culturally traditional Democrats in white working class and Red State districts across America is crucial for reducing extremism. Right now in many districts Republicans win 70 or 80% of the vote, making Democrats essentially invisible. Reducing the Republican advantage to 60 or 65% may seem irrelevant in purely electoral terms but in sociological terms the effect would be profound. If your next door neighbor or the captain of the baseball team is a Democrat, it becomes harder to believe conspiracy theories that claim Democrats are secret degenerates running child sex slave rings.

As a result, winning a sector of the more moderate culturally traditional white working class voters to the Democratic Party would profoundly undermine the social foundation of the current GOP extremism. This is the most important reason why a “big tent” and commanding Democratic majority is vital not only for Democrats but for the future of America.”

Amen. The big tent strategy is not just a good idea; it’s a necessity.

Teixeira: How Biden Could Lose

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

How Biden Could Lose

I’m not saying it will happen or even that it’s likely it will happen. But we can begin to see the outlines of how it might happen. George Packer:

“If Donald Trump wins, in a trustworthy vote, what’s happening this week in Kenosha, Wisconsin, will be one reason. Maybe the reason. And yet Joe Biden has it in his power to spare the country a second Trump term….

[O]n Monday, the Republicans began their remote convention. The simultaneous mayhem in Kenosha seemed like part of the script, as it played into their main theme: that Biden is a tool of radical leftists who hate America, who want to bring the chaos of the cities they govern out to the suburbs where the real Americans live. The Republicans won’t let such an opportunity go to waste. “Law and order are on the ballot,” Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday night. Other speakers were harsher.

It’s no use dismissing their words as partisan talking points. They are effective ones, backed up by certain facts. Trump will bang this loud, ugly drum until Election Day. He knows that Kenosha has placed Democrats in a trap. They’ve embraced the protests and the causes that drive them. The third night of the Democratic convention was consumed with the language and imagery of protest—as if all Americans watching were activists.

On Monday, the day after Blake’s shooting, Biden and his vice-presidential nominee, Senator Kamala Harris, released statements expressing outrage. The next day, Biden’s spokesperson released a statement opposing “burning down communities and needless destruction.” And on Wednesday, Biden, after speaking with the Blake family, condemned both the initial incident and the subsequent destruction. “Burning down communities is not protest,” he pleaded in a video. “It’s needless violence.” He said the same after George Floyd’s killing.

How many Americans have heard him? In the crude terms of a presidential campaign, voters know that the Democrat means it when he denounces police brutality, but less so when he denounces riots. To reach the public and convince it otherwise, Biden has to go beyond boilerplate and make it personal, memorable.”

Packer has a suggestion for how to do this which seems eminently sensible to me. In fact, I can’t think of a good reason for Biden not to do it.

“Biden, then, should go immediately to Wisconsin, the crucial state that Hillary Clinton infamously ignored. He should meet the Blake family and give them his support and comfort. He should also meet Kenoshans like the small-business owners quoted in the Times piece, who doubt that Democrats care about the wreckage of their dreams. Then, on the burned-out streets, without a script, from the heart, Biden should speak to the city and the country. He should speak for justice and for safety, for reform and against riots, for the crying need to bring the country together. If he says these things half as well as Julia Jackson did, we might not have to live with four more years of Trump.”

I can, however, think of a bad reason why Biden might not do this. From a good Politico report on the situation in Kenosha and Wisconsin:

“John “Sly” Sylvester, a longtime Democrat and radio personality who has been active in the labor movement, said he feared Democrats have a “blind spot” to rioters and looters.

“I think there are some people on the left who don’t understand the concept of how important public safety is to people,” Sylvester said. “We all saw the shooting and are deeply troubled by it, but that doesn’t negate the need for public safety.”

That’s right: public safety! It’s very,very important to voters and Democrats need to show they’re 100 percent on the right side of this issue. That means denunciations of violence and looting can’t just be an afterthought to support of the current movement against police brutality. It has to be front and center and if that means incurring the wrath of some activists, BLM leaders and Twitter denizens, so be it. This election is too important to be held hostage to the actions of small groups of radicals whose tactics and illiberal ideology are toxic to the progressive cause. Time for Democrats to break out of the trap.

Brownstein: Dems Gain from Trump’s Shrinking Coalition

At CNN Politics, Ronald Brownstein writes that ” Trump has imposed a distinctive bet on the GOP. He’s increased its reliance on the people and places least touched by — and most resistant to — the seismic demographic, cultural and economic changes remaking America, while accelerating the party’s retreat in the places, and among the people, that most welcome those changes. Evidence is growing that in November, the GOP could be pushed back further into its strongholds and lose more ground in diverse, growing metropolitan America, even if Trump finds a way to overcome his persistent deficits in national polls to Democratic nominee Joe Biden.” Brownstein notes, further,

In 2016, Trump won very few of the states with the most immigrants, the most college graduates or the fewest White Christians, and polls show he could lose several of the small number he did carry in each category. House Republicans, while still strong in rural areas, are also at high risk for even further losses in the big metropolitan areas that keyed the Democratic surge in 2018. That same demographic and geographic realignment threatens embattled GOP senators in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Maine and potentially Iowa, Georgia and conceivably even Texas.

The conundrum facing the GOP will be visible in the passionate support for the President on display this week. As the previously Republican-leaning voters who can’t abide Trump’s definition drift away from the party — a dynamic that Democrats highlighted last week by featuring so many prominent Republicans at their own convention — what’s left are those most bonded to Trump’s polarizing approach. That will make it difficult to build a coalition for changing direction if Trump loses this fall, even if he takes down the GOP Senate majority with him.

Brownstein adds that “all signs suggest that Trump and the GOP this year will become even more reliant on support from his narrow coalition of core groups: Whites who live in rural areas, lack college degrees or identify as evangelical Christians. Polls conducted just before the national conventions showed that while Trump generally is not quite matching his extraordinary 2016 levels of support from those groups, he remains very strong with them.”

“Polls consistently show him drawing support from only about 30% of adults younger than 30,” notes Brownstein, “and unlike 2016, when many of those younger voters splintered off to third-party candidates, several surveys suggest that Biden could consolidate as many as two-thirds of them, far more than Hillary Clinton did in 2016…Trump is at risk of the weakest performance for any Republican presidential nominee in the history of modern polling, tracing back to 1952, among White voters with a college education; a flurry of recent surveys, including those from CNN, NBC/Wall Street Journal, Pew and ABC/Washington Post, all showed Biden winning at least 57% of them, an unprecedented number for a Democrat.”

As Brownstein observes, “The groups he runs best with are almost all shrinking as a share of American society, while the groups that he’s alienated are growing.” He quots Republican pollster Whit Ayers, who explains, “The trends of 2016-17 and ’18 are continuing apace, with continuing weakness of the Republican brand in suburban areas that had traditionally voted Republican coupled with strengthening of the Republican brand in rural areas that had traditionally voted Democrat…The problem, of course, is that the Republicans are trading larger, faster-growing areas for smaller slower-growing areas, and the math does not work out in the long run with that sort of trade.”

Brownstein cites the “rejection of the Trump-defined GOP in suburbia,” which has “pointedly demonstrated the limits of the combative political vision the President is celebrating at this week’s convention.” He concludes with a quote from Republican Rep  Charlie Dent (PA) who has endorsed Biden: “If the President loses reelection and the Senate were to flip, then I believe there will be a reckoning and the need for a very real conversation…There will be no need for another ‘autopsy.’ We will know who killed the patient here.”

DCorps: Biden’s New Consolidated Lead in The Battleground

The following article is cross-posted from a DCorps e-blast:

Democracy Corps’ phone, mostly cell poll with 1,500 respondents in sixteen battleground states shows Joe Biden and the Democrats moving into the kind of lead it needs to deny Donald Trump the ability to disrupt Election Day. The poll was conducted after the selection of Senator Harris and the launch of the convention, but prior to the final night acceptance speech.

It shows Biden gaining 3-points in his margin over Trump, reaching 10 points (53 percent). The race showed Democrats stable with a 6-point lead in the generic congressional and up a point to an 8 point margin in the big five Senate contests. That suggests Democrats could win full control in November. That the others moved hardly at all, suggests the Biden gain is sustainable.

Biden’s gains are produced by his campaign finally concluding the primary, not the convention itself.The percentage of Sanders voters supporting Biden jumped from 73 to 89 percent; the percent of Sanders voters hit 10 on the enthusiasm scale jumped from 80 to 90 percent. Biden moved from a +4 point to a +18 point lead with white millennials.

Democrats more consolidated, anti-Trump and now at parity on enthusiasm.  Biden is getting 95 percent of Democrats, while Trump 89 percent of Republicans; the percent of Democrats strongly disapproving of Trump has jumped to 87 percent and the percent of Republicans strongly approving is unchanged at 69 percent. That is a huge (18 point) gap in negative motivation; and Democrats and Republicans are equal on percent 10 following election extremely closely.

Biden has huge margins now across the Rising American Electorate, especially women. This is a very happy chapter for Biden’s performance with Hispanics (margin up from +19 to +32 points), white unmarried women (ahead by 19 points), white college women (margin up from +21 to +28 points), and white millennial women (up from +12 to +38 point lead).  Biden has a huge margin with blacks, but among black men, Trump has double digit support.

Trump has lost his working class hold – both men and women.  Few noticed how much Trump lost working class voters in the mid-terms (margin down 13 points with women and 14 with men). But Trump has lost further ground in this cycle – 6 with the women and 4 with the men. That means Biden is only losing white working class women by 8 points in the battleground. It also means Trump’s red-meat, base strategy is not moving the men where he won by 48 points in 2016.

Biden has slipped with white baby boomers and dropped sharply with the white silent generation. This is a significant drop, though obviously, more than offset by his gains with millennials —and there are a lot more of the latter. Nonetheless, it could be a reaction of older voters to the ticket and the convention; it could be Trump getting an audience on crime where Biden has only a modest advantage.

Biden does not have a strong emotional bond with voters. Biden still has a net-negative overall image, with only 28 percent “very warm” feelings for him. More voters are intensively negative.  He does not get an intense response with millennials; in fact, he does much better with older voters. He has a net -17 image with white working class women – double his vote margin.

The progressive issue moment.Voters want bolder on health care; tax wealth more than high incomes; and opposed to border wall.

The Republican Party is imploding. It is shedding voters and now 18 percent say, they used to identify as Republican. Biden is winning two-thirds of these voters who are very favorable about ACA.  Biden is getting 17 percent of GOP moderates and 8 percent of Catholic conservative Republicans.

Teixeira: The Ineluctable Centrality of the White Noncollege Vote

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

I’ve been a bit puzzled lately with the apparent lack of interest by Democrats in the white noncollege vote. There didn’t seem to be much of an attempt at the convention to highlight such voters who might be coming over to the Democrats’ side (see the Washington Post article, “Democrats embrace ‘who we are’ — women, people of color and young voters,” which summarizes the optics of the convention).

This would be easier to understand if there weren’t such voters. But there are! Indeed, my analysis of high quality August polls where appropriate crosstabs are available indicates that Biden is running 10 margin points better than Clinton among white noncollege voters compared to 6 points better among white college voters. The difference in favor of white noncollege voters is even larger in my analysis of the ongoing Nationscape survey. Add in the fact that white noncollege voters are about 40 percent larger as a group than white college voters (more in heavily white noncollege states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and it’s clear that the single largest contributor to Biden’s wider margin over Trump relative to Clinton is his superior performance among white noncollege voters.

Yet these voters rated hardly a mention. Perhaps it is assumed that such voters are so mad at Trump because of COVID, the economy and his broken promises that they are securely locked down and the only remaining task is to assure robust turnout among Democratic-leaning constituencies. I wouldn’t assume that especially since you know exactly which voters Trump’s going to go after. If he’s successful Biden’s wide lead could narrow very quickly.

That would be bad. When your opponent’s on the floor, the best strategy is to keep him there rather than let him get up and wield his greatest weapon against you once again.

Teixeira: The Democratic Convention and the Dog That Didn’t Bark

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

The Democratic convention generally went off very well and Joe Biden did a terrific job with his big speech.

But was something missing? It did seem like there wasn’t much of an economic message. Presumably this was intentional and one can understand the logic behind it–keep the election a referendum on Trump, get voters very comfortable with Joe Biden the person, be inclusive in every kind of way from Democratic base groups to defecting Republicans. I get it.

But still….was an opportunity lost to put forward a crisp, clear message of economic growth and renewal that would galvanize working class voters, both white and nonwhite, and make them less potentially susceptible to Trump’s economic messages? I do wonder about this. It could matter for the campaign and also to governing should Biden get elected.

John Judis remarks:

“The Democrats in the past have alternated between being the party emphasizing economic growth (Kennedy’s “get the country moving again”) or redistribution (Mondale’s “making the rich pay their fair share”). Biden’s party, as viewed at the convention, was a party of redistribution. There were scattered appeals to growth (Bloomberg’s speech). There was mention of the “Green New Deal” and “Infrastructure” but no attempt to visualize or in other ways dramatize the promise of economic growth in these abstractions. “Build back better” is a tongue twister, but lacks content. America remains a world leader in high technology, but you wouldn’t have known it from the convention — except for the magic of the virtual presentations….

The Democrats of 2000, 2004, and 2016 failed to make [the] case [that they were the party of the great American middle] . The Democrats of 2020 have a candidate in Biden who embodies this appeal, but much of their rhetoric and the program itself, more clearly reflected the identity politics of 2016 that emphasizes difference and ignores, whether intentionally or not, predominately white, flyover America. The point is not to appeal, as Trump undoubtedly will, only to this America, but to present an image of a unitary American small-d democrat. It may be hard to do,, but the party’s ability to sustain majorities depends on it.”

Ron Brownstein elaborates:

“[Biden’s] speech, as well as the convention itself, had a conspicuous blind spot: The event did not deliver a concise critique of Trump’s economic record or offer a tight explanation of Biden’s plans to improve the economic circumstances of middle-class families. Though Biden ran through an extended list of policy goals on issues including job creation and climate change during his address, he offered vanishingly little detail about how he would achieve them—though, in fact, he’s delivered a series of detailed speeches laying out his agenda….

Even if Biden emerges from the convention with a boost in the polls, his choice to focus less on economic appeals and more on sweeping themes and social issues, particularly racial justice, raises some of the same questions that surfaced after the Democrats’ last national meeting. Though Hillary Clinton’s 2016 convention drew strong reviews, it too emphasized the party’s embrace of diversity, the breadth of her coalition, and Trump’s deficiencies of character without delivering a clearly delineated economic agenda for working families. Those choices faced pointed second-guessing after Election Day, when Trump’s huge margins among non-college-educated white voters allowed him to dislodge the Rust Belt battlegrounds of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin from the Democrats’ “blue wall” and claim his narrow victory….

One senior Biden adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to talk frankly, told me that the issues highlighted during that sequence reflect the priorities of the party’s modern base, as the campaign sees it: young people (guns and climate), suburban women (guns and women’s rights), and people of color (racial justice and immigration).

Yet unless Biden can win across a wide range of Sun Belt states, he’s unlikely to reach 270 Electoral College votes without improving at least somewhat among working-class white voters in the key Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. And analysts have long observed that many older Latino and African American voters in particular are more motivated to turn out to the polls by concrete plans to improve their life than by broad promises of confronting discrimination.”

It’s worth pointing out here that my analysis of Nationscape and other data indicates that the largest contribution to Biden’s improved margin relative to Clinton 2016, both overall and in key Rust Belt battleground states, has been due to relative improvement among white noncollege voters. The campaign should not lose sight of this and the general necessity to have a clear and compelling economic message in the rest of the campaign.

Biden’s Acceptance Speech a ‘Home Run in the Bottom of the Ninth”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s acceptance speech is being greeted with rave reviews. You would expect no less from fellow Democrats. But Biden is getting soaring praise for his address  even from Republicans. For example Fox News commentator Dana Perino, a former press secretary for George W. Bush, called it “a home run in the bottom of the ninth,” which “had pace, rhythm, energy, emotion and delivery. I think if he looks back, he’s got to say that was probably the best speech of his life. He really just took the moment, and I love that.”

It went like this:

Here is the full transcript of Biden’s acceptance address:

Good evening.

Ella Baker, a giant of the civil rights movement, left us with this wisdom: Give people light and they will find a way.

Give people light. Those are words for our time.

The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division.

Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us not the worst. I will be an ally of the light not of the darkness.

It’s time for us, for we the people, to come together. For make no mistake. United we can, and will, overcome this season of darkness in America. We will choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege.

I am a proud Democrat and I will be proud to carry the banner of our party into the general election. So, it is with great honor and humility that I accept this nomination for president of the United States of America.

But while I will be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn’t support me as I will for those who did.

That’s the job of a president. To represent all of us, not just our base or our party. This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment.

It’s a moment that calls for hope and light and love. Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward, and love for one another.

America isn’t just a collection of clashing interests of red states or blue states.

We’re so much bigger than that. We’re so much better than that.

Nearly a century ago, Franklin Roosevelt pledged a New Deal in a time of massive unemployment, uncertainty, and fear. Stricken by disease, stricken by a virus, F.D.R. insisted that he would recover and prevail and he believed America could as well. And he did. And so can we.

This campaign isn’t just about winning votes. It’s about winning the heart, and yes, the soul of America. Winning it for the generous among us, not the selfish. Winning it for the workers who keep this country going, not just the privileged few at the top. Winning it for those communities who have known the injustice of the “knee on the neck.” For all the young people who have known only an America of rising inequity and shrinking opportunity. They deserve to experience America’s promise in full.

Roll Call Vote Celebrates Democratic – and American – Diversity

Day two of the Democratic convention generated lots of read-worthy articles. But please check out Stephen Collinson’s “A risky roll call turns into a surprise moment of national unity” at CNN Politics, which caught the vibrant spirit of the party that looks like America:

Out of many, One.

Locked down, isolated and fearful as a pandemic fractured national bonds and the power of community, America got a sudden, startling look at itself on Tuesday night as the Democratic National Convention’s virtual roll call vote whipped coast to coast and around the globe.
For a few sunny minutes, the despondency of the summer of Covid lifted during a celebratory glimpse into the country’s vibrant geographic diversity, cultural breadth and enduring common purpose. A risky television production experiment that could have gone badly wrong instead turned into a pageant of national unity, and injected unusual bounce into nominee Joe Biden’s basement campaign.
CNN’s Paul LeBlanc goes on to share his “notable moments from the DNC’s virtual roll call.” It was a good look that showed America which party has the positive, energetic spirit to lead the nation to a better future. It wasn’t just the racial and cultural diversity that was so impressive. The roll call vote creatively leveraged the power of place. As Collinson reports,
The virtual tour played out in short recorded videos, and live shots became a tantalizing glimpse of a vast and fertile land that is out there waiting once the current nightmare — in which more than 170,000 people have died, millions lost their jobs and tens of millions have been cut off from friends, coworkers and loved ones — finally abates…The vote poignantly started on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where the recently deceased John Lewis had marched into history. And where else would “Amtrak” Joe Biden’s presidential nominating roll call wrap up but a platform of the Joseph R. Biden Jr. Railroad Station in Wilmington, Delaware?..[it] served up stunning backdrops from rocky crags in Colorado to the Bering Sea in Alaska and Arizona cacti. It swept from American Samoa, with a verdant mountain vista, to a farmyard in Maine and on to Michigan’s delegation in the Motor City, standing like salesmen in a local TV ad in front of three gleaming new vehicles.

In her NBC News article, “Virtual roll call at Democratic convention delights with digital tour of U.S. Democrats took their roll call on the road this year, turning a mostly sleepy procedural moment into a heartwarming virtual tour,” Jane C. Timm writes,

Plain winds briefly overpowered the audio of a young woman in Montana while cows grazed behind her unaware of the national audience. Representatives from the New Mexico and South Dakota delegations spoke Indigenous languages and English, while Puerto Rico’s representative made his remarks in Spanish, with English captions…Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania stood outside Biden’s childhood home in Scranton, announcing the state’s tally.

In Louisiana, a little boy holding a sign showing Biden’s famous aviator sunglasses won the internet’s heart…Some states elevated rising stars — South Carolina’s votes were announced by the state’s Democratic Senate candidate, Jaime Harrison — while others recalled tragic moments in the country’s history. In Florida, Parkland parent Fred Guttenberg spoke about how his daughter was murdered in a school shooting in 2018, highlighting Biden’s record on gun control.

Also check out “Here Are The Beautiful, Powerful, And Funny Moments From The State Roll Call Nominating Joe Biden For President” at Buzzfeed News, which features a few choice clips from the segment.

CNN did screw-up the segment by interrupting the flow with several commercials. They won’t make that mistake again. But when it resumed, it was still powerful and effective. Republicans may try something similar, but a copy-cat video won’t have the same magic, partly because their product is an increasingly tough sell.

If you want to watch the complete roll call, click here and scroll down a bit to the video segment.

Teixeira: Can Joe Biden Hold the Democrats Together?

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

I have heard from a number of folks who can’t get through the WSJ paywall to read my pearls of wisdom. A tragedy! As a humanitarian gesture, I reproduce below the full text of the article–minus the snazzy graphics alas.

Since the New Deal, Democrats have struggled to hold together the eclectic elements of their coalition. Under President Franklin Roosevelt, who forged the party as we know it, the bedrock of Democratic support was the white working class, the “solid South” and Black Americans. But that alliance proved unstable. It came apart in the 1960s as the party struggled to incorporate the voters and demands of a range of new social movements—on civil rights, Vietnam, women’s liberation and the environment. Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 gave Democrats hope that they were forming a new coalition, perhaps one even more durable than its New Deal predecessor. President Obama brought together the rising, 21st-century constituencies of nonwhite voters—Black, Hispanic, Asian—as well as younger voters, educated urban whites and even a solid portion of the white working class.