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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Levy: Democratic Messaging During the Pandemic

From Pema Levy’s article, “The 2020 Election Is Now About the Coronavirus. Here’s How Progressive Groups Plan to Win It: Democrats are taking early steps to spread word about Trump’s bungled response.” at Mother Jones:

“On March 12, a group dedicated to preserving and expanding the Affordable Care Act, called Protect Our Care, released the first political television ad that mentioned the coronavirus. It targeted Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) for his opposition to Obamacare. Montanans already worried about health care were now also worried about coronavirus, the ad’s narrator intoned.

But Protect Our Care quickly realized that as a group focused on health care, they had a larger role to play, and broadened its messaging to include the country’s biggest contest by setting up what it calls its “Coronavirus War Room,” a messaging hub meant to hold Trump accountable for the ways he has made the crisis worse. Last week, it began blasting off memos targeting Trump to the press while also acting as a messaging clearinghouse for other groups. Protect Our Care also started hosting calls three times a week with progressive groups to get everyone on the same talking points…

“Our focus at Protect Our Care and the Coronavirus War Room is largely on the accountability piece and with that it’s almost exclusively focused on Trump,” says Woodhouse, a longtime Democratic operative. “You can’t wait until October to tell the American people about how roundly he screwed this up.”

…[Executive Director Brad] Woodhouse sums up the core messages pushed from the war room: “He screwed it up from the beginning, he hasn’t learned from his mistakes, he’s downplayed the crisis, he doesn’t listen to experts, and that continues to make the crisis worse.” You can see the strategy deployed in the emails his team blasts out, often three a day, which attack Trump on a range of issues, including the administration’s failure to prepare by ramping up testing and the manufacture of medical equipment and protective gear; its elimination of key offices and positions charged with pandemic preparedness; and by elevating Trump’s comments, like downplaying the need for ventilators, that contradict medical experts.”

Levy explains, “To fight pro-Trump narratives, Democratic message warriors are looking for fresh data on how his words and actions are hitting home amid the crisis.” She adds, “Navigator Research, which is operated by two progressive polling firms, Global Strategy Group and GBAO Research and Strategy in consultation with the Hub Project, has put out monthly polls to help guide progressive messaging on a variety of issues. Two weeks ago, the project decided to scrap the monthly poll and set up a daily tracker to understand people’s attitudes toward the coronavirus and Trump’s handling of the crisis.”

She quotes Ian Sams, a Democratic strategist who consults with the Hub Project and Navigator Research: “We can’t handle this appropriately in real time as a progressive movement, as Democratic leaders, if we don’t understand how the public is processing it—because it is uncharted territory…We’ve never had 3 million people file for unemployment in a week.” Recent numbers show the situation is even more unprecedented: 10 million jobless benefit claims in two weeks.”

The Hub project “has captured data uncovering areas where Trump remains out of step with American opinion. When Trump floated the idea of prioritizing the economy over public health, the tracking poll released last Friday showed that people were more worried about their health and the health of those they know than the economy. Over the course of its first week, the poll showed Americans’ view of Trump’s overall handling of the crisis was trending downward. Small majorities last week believed  Trump’s response has been “unprepared” and “chaotic.” Further,

Multiple Democratic super PACs have begun to run advertisements on Facebook and on television to hammer this message, though campaign finance law prohibits them from coordinating with progressive groups that are subject to fundraising restrictions. Pacronym, a Democratic super PAC affiliated with the digital firm Acronym, announced on March 17 that it would spend $2.5 million through April on Facebook ads to educate voters about “how the Trump administration’s chaos and incompetence have weakened the nation’s ability to respond to the coronavirus crisis.” The effort is focused on battleground states.

Priorities USA Action, another Democratic super PAC, began running television ads last Tuesday in the swing states of Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The ad splices clips of Trump downplaying the crisis with a growing chart showing the rising number of infections in the United States. The Trump campaign issued a cease and desist letter to TV stations asking them to remove the ad; the group responded by putting it on the air in Arizona as well. A version with updated numbers went up this week. On Wednesday, the group spent another $1 million on a television ad that contrasts Trump’s response with remarks Biden has made about how he would handle the crisis. It also began running a Facebook ad juxtaposing Trump and Biden.

“This is the most important issue in the country today,” says Katie Drapcho, Priorities USA Action’s director of research and polling. “I think it’s a defining moment for Trump’s presidency and the country. And our view is that it’s absolutely crucial that voters hear the facts about Trump’s inaction and misleading statements.”

In addition, “Unite the Country PAC, a super PAC started in 2019 to support Biden’s campaign, spent $1 million to broadcast an ad accusing Trump of failing in this time of crisis, and added another TV spot on the same…Protect Our Care, the group behind the Coronavirus War Room, launched new ads across Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania…”

Regarding the difficulty of Democratic messaging during the pandemic, Levy concludes that “It’s one thing to figure out how to attack Donald Trump, it’s another to do so without rallies or door knocking. It’s a problem for the Democratic nominee, but also for organizers behind voter registration and get-out-the-vote programs…Just as social gatherings have transitioned to FaceTime and Zoom, it seems certain that new forms of political organizing will be digitized.”

Teixeira: Some Good News from the Largest Swing State

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

Florida: Ain’t No Sunshine When It’s Gone

That could be Donald Trump, paraphrasing the late, great Bill Withers, if the new University of North Florida poll is foreshadowing his fate in the Sunshine State. The UNF poll finds Biden ahead of Trump by 6 points, 46-40, including strong leads in the swing Central Florida regions of Tampa and Orlando. Trump’s lead among white voters in the state is a mere 10 points, catastrophically low compared to his 22 point margin in 2016.

It’s worth nothing that the poll also shows Trump’s approval rating on handling the coronavirus pandemic underwater at 45 percent approval/53 percent disapproval (including 43 percent strong disapproval). Perhaps Trump is not as immune from political harm from his dreadful handling of the crisis as many Democrats suppose.

It is fair to say that Trump’s chances of re-election in November without Florida are quite poor. Of course, he will pull out all the stops to prevail in the state again, but these data suggest he has a real challenge on his hands.

Attfield: Working-Class People Hold Society Together – Class and COVID-19

The following article by Sarah Attfield, University of Technology Sydney and editor of the  Journal of Working-Class Studies, is cross-posted from Working-Class Perspectives:

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted class inequalities. Commentators in the US, UK, and Australia are acknowledging that working-class people are more likely to suffer as a result of both the virus and the measures put in place to contain its spread.

Workers face increased risk of exposure to the virus because many have no choice but to be in regular face-to-face contact with people who might be infected. Workers in hospitals are at especially high risk, and while the majority of doctors might be middle class, most nurses, care assistants, cleaners, porters, and the people preparing and serving meals are working class. These front-line workers simply can’t stay at home.

Working-class people also have more difficulty accessing health care. In the US, working-class people often lack access to adequate health care, and they might not be able to afford treatment if they can get it. In the US, working-class people are also less likely to have sick pay and may have no choice but to go into work when sick. Existing health disparities put people of colour in the US at far greater risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19. The UK and Australia have universal health care systems, but there are still discrepancies in access to treatment. In the UK, for example, Tory austerity measures have severely diminished the capacity of the National Health Service (NHS), so the system that cannot cope with the influx of infected patients despite the efforts of NHS workers. And racial disparities exist in these countries, too. Indigenous Australians are also at greater risk from the virus due to the racial gap in health outcomes.

Testing also reflects class inequities. While many working-class people don’t have access to tests, more elite members of society have had no trouble at all in getting tested and receiving immediate treatment. Prince Charles was infected and isolated himself at the royal family’s private estate in Scotland. No doubt he had excellent medical care available. In Australia the health system is less overloaded, but celebrities there have had no trouble getting tested even as others have had requests turned down.

Class differences also make for different experiences of quarantine, social isolation, and the recommended hygiene routines such as hand washing. Middle-class people are more likely to be able to work at home. Most have good internet access and space for at-home leisure activities such as home-gyms or gardens to escape to. Quarantine looks very different for people living in households with little physical space, and many cannot afford or don’t have access to the internet. The shift to online learning for school and tertiarystudents has really exposed the digital divide. And the guidelines on handwashing can only be met if people have access to clean running water and soap.

Add to all of this the millions of working-class people who have lost their jobs due to new restrictions on “non-essential” busineses. In Australia, the government announced that all bars and night clubs would close, and restaurants and cafes could only serve take out. Overnight, thousands were unemployed. More people were stood down by retail outlets, the travel industry (such as airlines), and other businesses no longer able to operate due to the restrictions or the sudden and unsustainable drop in trade. This sent thousands of people to Centrelink (the Australian social security offices) to apply for unemployment benefit. The system has been unable to cope with the mass applications, and people have been left without any income. The Australian government’s response in the form of a wage subsidy will help some, but not all, of the laid-off workers.

For working-class people, these inequalities come as no surprise. People on low incomes know only too well how easy it is to be down to their last dollar and understand the implications of precarity. Class divisions are only a surprise to people who have never struggled financially or experienced class discrimination.

At the same time, the crisis has shown that working-class people matter. As others have pointed out, society is learning to appreciate workers whose essential labour is usually taken for granted and ignored. Now the middle classes are realising that retail and delivery workers, cleaners, sanitation, and utility and transport workers are the ones who keep society ticking along. Without these workers everything falls apart. Can the same be said for some middle-class professionals?

The pandemic crisis has also shown how important is it for workers to be organised. Unions have played a big part in pressuring governments and industries to look after workers. In Australia, the union movement has been instrumental in arguing for a wage subsidy and pushing the government to extend them to all workers. Unions have also been lobbying big employers and industries to secure extra sick pay, to ensure that workers on casual contracts also have access to sick pay and carers leave, and to demand that  casual contracts be honoured even if workers are currently unable to work. In other places, workers have been calling wildcat strikes to demand safer working conditions or even for the shut-down of their workplaces.

We don’t know what the long-term effects of this pandemic will be, but it’s already clear that working-class people are essential for the running of our societies. The crisis is also showing more middle-class people how class works to create and reinforce inequalities, and it’s revealing the failures of the free market and neoliberalism. Whether this will lead to a change in the way economies are organised remains to be seen, of course. If nothing else, I hope this new recognition of the importance of working-class people will shift attitudes permanently.

Teixeira: Biden and White Noncollege Voters (II)

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

Yesterday, I noted that Biden’s strong primary performance owed a lot to how well his did with white noncollege voters. But that’s the primary; what about the general election? How does Biden fare against Trump among this demographic relative to how well (which was very poorly) Clinton did against Trump in 2016?

Here I compare States of Change data from our analysis of the 2016 election with data from the UCLA/Lucid/Democracy Fund Voter Study Group survey. The survey interviews 6,000 respondents a week; I pool the date from the beginning of the year (almost 60,000 registered voters to date). What the data show overall is that Biden is delivering as advertised in terms of performance among white noncollege voters.

Data below show first the 2016 States of Change white noncollege margin for a given state, then the 2020 Nationscape margin among that demographic in that state and finally Biden’s relative white noncollege performance compared to Clinton’s in 2016.

National: -=31 Clinton 2016, -16 Biden 2020, +15 Biden difference

Arizona: -27 Clinton, -20 Biden, +7 Biden
Florida: -30 Clinton, -20 Biden, +10 Biden
Michigan -21 Clinton, -7 Biden, +14 Biden
Minnesota, -21 Clinton, -5 Biden, +16 Biden
North Carolina: -51 Clinton, -39 Biden, +12 Biden
Ohio: -32 Clinton, -16 Biden, +16 Biden
Pennsylvania: -29 Clinton, -17 Biden, +12 Biden
Wisconsin: -19 Clinton, –5 Biden, +14 Biden

It’s always important to remember that, while there were many deficiencies to Clinton’s performance in 2016 relative to Obama in 2012, by far the biggest and most consequential was the massive shift away from Democrats among white noncollege voters, particularly in the Midwest. While it’s a long way to November, these data tell an encouraging story about Biden’s ability to repair a lot of the damage among this demographic in 2020. That will take him far in his bid to unseat Trump in 2020–and probably help the Democratic ticket all over the country.

Teixeira: Biden and White Noncollege Voters (I)

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

One quite obvious pattern from the primaries as the race narrowed to Biden vs. Sanders was how well Biden was doing among white noncollege voters–a group Sanders had hoped to make his own. Geoffrey Skelley on 538 has an excellent breakdown of the primary voting results that highlights this striking development. Below are some excerpts from Skelley’s article. Tomorrow, I will use the Nationscape data to take a look at whether Biden’s good performance among white noncollege voters holds in state general election trial heats.

“Biden held onto much of the turf that Clinton won in 2016, but he also captured a lot of territory that Sanders carried four years ago. We found that much of Biden’s success can be explained by his dominance in areas with larger shares of white voters without a college degree….

The difference between Biden and Clinton’s performance is most obvious in areas with sizable shares of white voters who don’t have a college degree… the larger the share of a county’s population that is white without a college degree, the better Biden tended to perform compared to Clinton, even when Biden’s vote share in that particular county was smaller than Clinton’s.

Exit polls also underscore this trend, especially if we look at the race once the candidate field had winnowed after the February contests. In the 10 states that voted in March for which we have both 2016 and 2020 exit poll data,5 Sanders edged out Clinton among white voters without a college degree in 2016, 54 percent to 44 percent. But in 2020, Biden beat Sanders, 40 percent to 33 percent in those same states.

Even though we don’t have complete exit poll data from Michigan, the result there may best capture just how much ground Biden made up with white voters without a college degree, compared to Clinton’s performance with this group in 2016. Four years ago, Sanders won the state by about 1 point in a huge upset. He carried 73 of 83 counties while winning 57 percent of white voters without a college degree, per the 2016 exit poll. But in 2020, Biden won every county in Michigan en route to beating Sanders by nearly 17 points. The partial Michigan exit poll also found the former vice president won a majority of white voters without a college degree.”

Galston: Public Supports Robust Government Response to COVID-19

At Brookings, William A. Galston reports that “Polling shows Americans see COVID-19 as a crisis, don’t think US is overreacting.” As Galston writes:

As soon as the novel coronavirus began spreading across the country, some pundits—and on occasion President Trump—alleged that health experts and the media were exaggerating the problem and that policy makers were responding with measures that the American people would not tolerate. The high-quality survey research published in recent days makes it clear that the people don’t agree. They believe that we face a national emergency and that all the steps taken during the past few weeks are reasonable and proportionate. As of now, moreover, there is no evidence—none—that these measures have pushed the people past their breaking-point into non-compliance or revolt.

Galston provides “a summary of the key findings from three wide-ranging surveys conducted by Economist/YouGov, the Pew Research Center, and the Washington Post,” and notes:

Eighty-one percent of the people say that the Covid-19 pandemic has created a “national emergency” (Economist/YouGov). Sixty-six percent believe that it is a “major threat” to the health of the U.S. population, 88% say that it is a major threat to the economy (Pew), and 57% say that the country is “at war” with the coronavirus (Economist/YouGov). Only 3 in 10 say that the threat has been exaggerated for political reasons (Economist/YouGov).

About three-quarters of Americans are concerned about an outbreak in their communities (Economist/YouGov). Nearly 7 in 10 express the fear that they or a member of their family will catch the disease, and about two-thirds say that the disease will push the U.S. into a recession or that we are already in one. One-third of all households have already experienced layoffs or pay cuts, and the impact has been even higher for lower-income and less-educated individuals (Pew).

Galston notes further that “The surveys find a remarkably high degree of support for the measures public officials have mandated in response to Covid-19, even the measures that have massively disrupted daily life.” He adds that, “40% or more of Americans believe that we are underreacting to the Covid-19 threat, compared to 25-30% who believe that we are overreacting and about one-quarter who think that our reaction has been about right (Pew, Economist/YouGov). The country is split down the middle on the effectiveness of our efforts to contain the coronavirus, with 47% saying that the battle is going well and 46% that it is going badly. Only 4 in 10 Americans think that we were adequately prepared for this crisis, while 6 in 10 say that we were not (Economist/YouGov).”

For those who are wondering how the crisis affects public views about the role of federal, state and local governments in addressing the crisis, Galston notes, “On the one hand, a plurality of Americans (43%) say that the federal government should be in charge, compared to 27% for the states and just 9% for localities (Economist/YouGov). On the other hand, they express more confidence in state and local officials than they do in the federal government.”

Galston cites the likelihood that “sustained public support for tough public health measures will increase” if the CARES Act keeps most people employed and busines bankruptsies are limited. He concludes that “the American people are backing an increasingly robust response to the COVID-19 epidemic, even when it limits their customary liberties, they expect this restrictive regime to continue for at least another few months, and they seem prepared to tolerate it—for how long, nobody really knows.”

Teixeira: The Dog That Didn’t Bark: The Case of Trump’s Approval Ratings

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

It should not surprise people that Trump’s approval ratings have risen some. Rally effects in times of national crisis are very common. What should surprise people is how little they’ve gone up. Since February 29, when the first US coronavirus death was reported and the first travel restrictions were announced, his aggregated approval rating on 538 has risen 2.5 points, from 43.3 to 45.8. If you date it somewhat later, closer to mid-March and the national emergency declaration, the rise is a bit over 3 points.

By historical standards, this is a very small rally effect. Presumably this reflects the fact that the overwhelming majority of Trump disapprovers are set in their judgments and perhaps a sense that some aspects of his response to the crisis have been far from optimal (as polling data suggest). Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth Poll, does a good job of putting Trump’s “surge” in context:

“Fact 1: Donald Trump’s job rating is at an all-time high.

Fact 2: Donald Trump has not received the same approval “bump” as past presidents in a crisis.

Recent shifts in the president’s job approval have been met with “either alarms or fist pumps,” as one reporter put it to me. But we really have to keep this in context. We have become so accustomed to the fact that Trump’s numbers never move all that much, that we accept that as the norm. The current crisis is just an exceptionally stark example of that.

To put this in perspective, if this were any other president, we would expect job ratings to have swung almost instantaneously by at least 10 points. George W. Bush got a nearly 30 point bump after 9/11. John F. Kennedy saw a double-digit hike in his already high ratings during and after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Even Jimmy Carter got a 25 point bump in 1979 when Americans were taken hostage in Iran.”

It’s worth noting that all of the spikes alluded to by Murray featured the US against some other country in the world in a national security context. Despite Trump’s attempt to cast himself as a “wartime” president, it is obvious that the virus crisis has a different character–it’s a disaster, not a matter of national security.

Murray concludes:

“There’s a body of literature about the psychological need to rally around a leader in times of crisis, which is why the bigger research question for a student of public opinion is why that effect isn’t bigger right now rather than finding explanations for the few people who have become more positive toward the president.

Part of the explanation is certainly down to Trump’s inability to project a more inclusive, non-partisan persona as well as a steady hand on how his administration is tackling this situation. Part of the explanation is the failure of opposition leaders to signal to their followers that they should get behind the president (which admittedly is difficult for them to do as Trump’s rhetoric continues to lambast those who don’t show due deference to him).

Basically, the current times are blowing away a lot of the political theories about what typically happens in a time of crisis. And that, to me, is the more important public opinion story right now.”

It’s also worth noting the Trump’s small bump doesn’t seem to be having much impact on Trump-Biden trial heat measurements. The just-released Fox News Poll has Biden ahead of Trump, 49-40. This includes a shockingly low advantage for Trump among noncollege whites–a mere 13 points.

Finally, the Navigator survey has been running a tracking poll on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. They now find him underwater on this measure (down 13 margin points in a week; graphic below).

These measures all suggest the unusually modest nature of Trump’s gains in public perception. We shall see if recent measures taken (such as the CARES Act) yield larger benefits for him. But so far, the change in Trump”s approval rating is more “the dog that didn’t bark” than much of a game-changer.

Teixeira: The Turnout Tale of the 2020 Primaries

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

J. Miles Coleman of Sabato’s Crystal Ball has a terrific deep dive on turnout patterns in the 2020 primaries with lots of nice maps. His summary points:

“–With very few exceptions, statewide turnout in the 2020 Democratic primary has been higher than 2016.

— Suburban areas have seen some of the sharpest turnout increases — though these areas tend to have higher population growth, they’ve also trended blue in general elections, perhaps a positive indicator for Democrats looking to the fall.

— Meanwhile, some rural areas that have been trending away from Democrats in places like North Carolina and Oklahoma saw turnout lag behind 2016.

— While Bernie Sanders seems to have a stronger opponent in Joe Biden than he did with Hillary Clinton, Sanders’ prospects may have been hurt by partisan realignment since 2016.”

His conclusion on political implications, which I think is very reasonable.

“One clear pattern…is that the geographic trends in the Democratic primary are lining up with the contours of recent general elections. Greater turnout in suburbs has buoyed Joe Biden’s prospects and given us an idea of what the Democratic coalition may look like in November — the bigger question will be if that coalition is good for 270 electoral votes, particularly if Democrats continue to lose ground in areas outside major metro areas. That Biden did significantly better than Hillary Clinton in outstate areas in many states may also be an encouraging sign for the fall, but — again — primaries are not general elections, and the overall movement away from Democrats in these kinds of places showed up in the turnout patterns in some states as well.”

That is indeed the dynamic that will decide the 2020 election.

Teixeira: Trump’s Net Approval Rate, Economic Decline Spells Trouble for GOP

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

Is Trump Now an Underdog for Re-Election?

Probably. He wasn’t in great shape to begin with and the coronavirus, especially its economic effects, will hurt his chances even more. Plus the Democrats now are almost certain to nominate a candidate who, while far from perfect, can appeal to persuadable voters and will present a far more difficult target for the GOP attack machine.

Here’s a solid quantitative take from Alan Abramowitz, based on his updated “Time for a Change” Presidential election model. Of course, any model like this should be viewed cautiously, but the logic of Abramowitz’ model is sound and has a pretty good track record. Here’s his description of the model and analysis:

“With major sectors of the economy grinding to a near-standstill due to the pandemic, many economic forecasters are now predicting that the U.S. will experience a major downturn in economic growth in the current quarter that could continue for at least the next two quarters. Some forecasters are predicting a major recession with the economy shrinking by 5% or more in the second quarter of 2020. That’s significant because, in many election forecasting models, including my own “time for change” model, economic growth in the second quarter is a key predictor of the election results. Models like mine use second quarter GDP growth to measure the state of the economy because GDP is a broad measure of economic activity and the performance of the economy in the second quarter seems to shape opinions of the economy in the fall. So it’s possible that even if the economy recovers later in the year, the most electorally-salient perceptions will nonetheless be formed in the spring and summer.

For the 2020 election, I have modified my time for change model by focusing entirely on elections with a running incumbent. That is because, in these elections, both the incumbent’s approval rating in late June and the growth rate of the economy in the second quarter have much stronger effects than in elections without a running incumbent. I have also modified the model to make the electoral vote, rather than the popular vote, the dependent variable because it is the electoral vote that decides the winner. I unveiled this version of the model last April in the Crystal Ball……

Table 2 presents the conditional forecasts of the electoral vote for President Trump depending on his net approval rating in late June and the growth rate of the U.S. economy during the second quarter. It takes 270 electoral votes to win a presidential election. The results indicate that, despite the huge boost that Trump is predicted to receive as a first-term incumbent, an economic downturn in the second quarter, combined with a net approval rating in negative territory, would very likely doom Trump’s chances of winning a second term. The only scenario here in which Trump would be favored to win a second term would be modest economic growth combined with a small improvement in his net approval rating, which has been stuck in the vicinity of -10 for many months according to the FiveThirtyEight average. The model suggests that a major recession would likely result in an Electoral College landslide for Trump’s Democratic challenger, especially if it is accompanied by a further decline in the president’s approval rating.

Based on the results of presidential elections since World War II with running incumbents, a president with an upside-down approval rating and an economy in recession would have little chance of winning a second term in the White House. If President Trump’s net approval rating remains where it is now or declines further, and if the recession is severe, with real GDP shrinking by three points or more in the second quarter, the result could well be a defeat of landslide proportions.”

It is important to emphasize here that Abramowitz’ model suggests that Trump is a poor bet for re-election, given second quarter economic contraction, even if his net approval rating does not decline. Thus, even if partisan polarization manages to keep his generally poor approval rating from declining further, he will still be in very bad shape. And if his approval rating does decline significantly–well, he may be out of bullets.

Teixeira: What Trump Vs. Biden Looks Like Today

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

The folks at Decision Desk HQ are pretty level-headed and are generally cautious about assessing trend. But they are currently quite bearish on Trump and the GOP.

“With Sunday’s release of a Wall Street Journal/NBC National poll, we now have a third data point this week showing Joe Biden with a big lead. From a 9 point lead in WSJ/NBC to CNN’s Biden +10 to Quinnipiac’s even more bullish +11, there’s a clear trend line. The LeanTossup average, which includes all polling of the Biden versus Donald Trump race, not just those three, has the race at Biden +8.2% currently, and no matter what electoral college advantage Donald Trump has – as he did in 2016 – he would lose if that popular vote result were to come through. Entering the (incredibly likely, although, not technically guaranteed) general election matchup, the Democrats have to be favored.

If the Democrats were to win by the average’s 8.2%, that would represent a 6.1% swing since the 2016 Presidential Election, enough to swing 7 states, and the election – Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona – on a uniform swing. The Democrats need three of those under most constructions of the Electoral College, and such a wide popular vote lead would result in a rebuke to Trump and the GOP.

Now, none of this is to say that Biden can’t blow this lead and lose the election…but to sugarcoat this is a disservice to people – Donald Trump is an underdog to be re-elected.

The state polls don’t show a much different picture – while not as strong for the Democratic challenger, Biden currently leads by 4.8% in Michigan, 3.8% in Pennsylvania, 3.4% in North Carolina, and 5% in Arizona, per Real Clear Politics averages. In addition to those four states – which would be enough for a reasonably robust victory, Trump is only down 0.5% in Florida and tied in Wisconsin – and leading in 3 of the five most recent Wisconsin polls. Even in Texas, where the GOP won the Presidency by 9% last time, is close, with Trump only up 2.6%, and with a CNN poll of the state showing Biden winning by 1%. Even if Texas doesn’t flip – and that appears to be likelier than not, as of today – the GOP having to play defense in the Lone Star State is a disaster – a load of money, effort, and visits that now don’t get to go to Michigan or Florida or other more traditional backgrounds….

For the Republicans, the warning lights are going off – Trump’s in trouble at the top of the ticket, their defensive Senate map is widening, and the Democrats are nominating the moderate option.”

Some just-released state polls underscore this assessment. First, two new NBC/Marist polls of Arizona and Ohio.

“In [Arizona], Biden leads Trump by 1 point among registered voters, 47 percent to 46 percent — which is in within the poll’s margin of error.

The president, however, is ahead of Sanders by 3 points, 48 percent to 45 percent…..

And Biden leads the president by 4 points in the Buckeye State, 49 percent to 45 percent, while Sanders is ahead by 2 points, 48 percent to 46 percent.”

In addition, Monmouth has a new poll of Arizona out, with Biden up 3 points over Trump. While Hispanic support looks about the same as Clinton’s in 2016, white college is significantly better (+3 vs. -2) and white noncollege is way better (-11 vs. -27).

These are very good numbers. On to November!