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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Rakich and Skelley: 2022 Senate Race Map Looks Good for Dems

Some revealing strategic observations from Nathaniel Rakich and Geoffrey Skeeley from their article, “What All Those GOP Retirements Mean for the 2022 Senate Map” at FiveThirtyEight:

These retirements could be a helpful development for Democrats, too, as they provide the party with potential openings on what was already a decently favorable Senate map for them. Although the Senate’s rural biasstill makes the chamber advantageous to Republicans overall, the 2022 Senate map doesn’t force Democrats to compete on red turf nearly as much as the 2020 map or killer 2018 map did. In fact, no Democratic senators are running for reelection in states won by former President Donald Trump in 2020, while Republicans are defending two seats in states won by President Biden: the open seat in Pennsylvania and Sen. Ron Johnson’s seat in Wisconsin. (To make matters worse for Republicans, Johnson is considering retirement as well.)

However, the GOP may have one big advantage in 2022: a Republican-leaning national environment. As we saw in 2018 (and 2014, and 2010, and 2006, and…), midterm elections are usually bad for the president’s party. If that pattern holds true in 2022, the 2020 presidential results are probably not the best barometer of the partisanship of these states. Indeed, 2020 was actually a Democratic-leaning year, with Biden winning the national popular vote by 4.5 percentage points. So there’s a good chance that states will be at least a bit redder in 2022 than they were in 2020.

Skelley and Rakich conclude, noting that “the 2022 Senate map doesn’t force Democrats to compete on red turf nearly as much as the 2020 map or killer 2018 map did. In fact, no Democratic senators are running for reelection in states won by former President Donald Trump in 2020, while Republicans are defending two seats in states won by President Biden: the open seat in Pennsylvania and Sen. Ron Johnson’s seat in Wisconsin.”

Teixeira: Expanding the Biden Coalition

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

Biden got 51 percent of the vote in 2020, enough to win the election, but hardly a dominant majority. And Democrats’ downballot performance was distinctly inferior, leading to disappointing performance in Senate, House and state legislative races. The Biden administration now confronts a divided country racked by twin pandemic and economic crises. In the not so far distance looms the 2022 midterm elections where an incoming Presidential administration traditionally loses ground. The last time Democrats faced this situation in 2010 they suffered massive losses.

The imperative here is expand the Biden coalition. Concretely, that means Biden’s approval rating has to be as high as possible going into 2022. That is by far the most straightforward way of insulating the Democrats from big losses and creating at least the possibility for some gains.

So, how to do this? I offer a simple formula: convert Trump disapproval into Biden approval/Democratic votes. Consider these data comparing recent Trump disapproval, as measured by Pew, with Biden 2020 support figures from AP/VoteCast.

Black voters: Trump January disapproval – Biden 2020 support = 91-91 = 0

Hispanic voters: Trump January disapproval – Biden 2020 support = 82-63 = 19

White college voters: Trump January disapproval – Biden 2020 support = 73-52= 21

White noncollege voters: Trump January disapproval – Biden 2020 support = 52-37= 15

I smell opportunity! Besides an opening to expand white college support, there are serious possibilities here for attacking the two most serious weak spots in Biden’s 2020 coalition, Hispanic voters and white noncollege voters.

The conversion process for turning these Trump disapprovers into Biden approvers and then hopefully Democratic voters can only run through a successful attack on the pandemic and economic crises. Really for the next period of time nothing else is important. Not immigration reform. Not criminal justice reform. Not climate change. Not child poverty. Not executive orders. Not Trump’s trial. Either solve the twin crises or prepare yourself for the wrath of voters who will, not unreasonably, think you have failed them. The Biden coalition will shrink, not expand and all the great ideas progressives have for improving the country will come to naught.

Thus, the mantra here should be move fast, spend big and make it obvious. Derek Thomson in the Atlantic puts it well:

Biden…faces concentric crises, which move outward toward the future as you unpeel them: the biological threat of the pandemic, the economic recession, and, beyond that, the entrenched problem of child poverty. He also has to contend with the problem casting a shadow over the whole century, the existential crisis of climate change.

Biden’s first 100 days should address the first two crises with Rooseveltian focus. Quench the conflagration of the moment—then fight the fire of the future….

One lesson from the Obama years is that smart policy making isn’t just about doing brainy stuff; it’s about doing good and popular stuff in a way that keeps you in power so you can do more good stuff. The Democrats’ failure to properly stimulate the economy in 2010—or get credit for their very real contributions—led to catastrophic midterm losses in the House that made it impossible for them to accomplish much of anything in Obama’s last six years in office.

Let’s not let that happen again! The fate of the country and of the Democrats really does depend on it.

Greenberg: To Save America, Look at America as It Is

The following article by Stanley B. Greenberg, founding partner of Greenberg Research, board member of The American Prospect and author of ‘RIP GOP: How the New America Is Dooming the Republicans,’ is cross-posted from The American Prospect:

Just as the intelligence community may have missed the size, organization, and determination of Trump’s supporters to keep Donald Trump as president, the polls in 2016 and 2020 missed Trump’s ability to bring his base of white working class, evangelical, and rural voters into the electorate, to save white people from a changing America. Trump called Mexican immigrants “murders and rapists,” sent signals to the KKK, and instituted the Muslim ban. His political mission was defined by “good people on both sides,” closing the government to fund the border wall, and telling the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

Trump won the Republican nomination in 2016 by winning over the Tea Party, evangelical, and pro-life blocs, each of them determined to save America from Barack Obama, the first Black president. His enflaming racial resentment gave Trump an unassailable base in his party. But what the general elections reveal is that 40 percent of all Americans is fully part of an anti-establishment, God-first, racially resentful, anti-democratic bloc, who live in a right-wing media cocoon and adore Donald Trump. This bloc of white rural, evangelical, and working-class male voters rushed to the polls in both 2016 and 2020. And critically, they are three of every five Republicans.

Chanting “Make America Great Again,” “U-S-A.! U-S-A!” and “Stop the Steal,” Trump’s violent vanguard assaulted the Capitol to stop the counting of Electoral College votes. Rampaging white mobs and paramilitary Proud Boys abolish any nuance, waving their Confederate, American, and Trump flags. They aren’t sure anybody but Donald Trump will be as uncompromising, racist, and anti-establishment as they desire. And they don’t think anyone else on their side can win.


Data for Progress: Public Disgusted with People Who Stormed Capitol

The following article by By Mia Costa Assistant Professor, Dartmouth College and Brian Schaffner Newhouse Professor of Civic Studies, Tufts University, is cross-posted from Data for Progress:

Last week, as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building, many journalists and observers struggled with how exactly to describe those carrying out the shocking acts. Early reporting on the events at the Capitol building used the label  “protesters,” but descriptions quickly evolved with news organizations opting to use terms like “rioters,” “mob,” “insurrectionists,” and even “terrorists.”  The following day, President-elect Biden himself made his case: “They weren’t protesters – don’t dare call them protesters. They were a riotous mob. Insurrectionists. Domestic terrorists. It’s that basic. It’s that simple.” Politicians on both sides of the aisle are using terms like “insurrectionists” and “rioters” to describe those who attacked the Capitol building.

But how do Americans themselves describe those who attacked the Capitol building? In a survey sponsored by Data for Progress and fielded online on January 12th, we asked a representative sample of 1,140 American adults what word or words they would use to describe the individuals who stormed the U.S. Capitol. We provided an open box where respondents could write anything they wished to describe these individuals. You can scroll through randomly selected responses by checking out this app.

The word cloud shows the 100 most common words used in these responses sized based on how frequently they were used. The most common word people used to describe those who stormed the Capitol building was by far, “terrorists.” In fact, more than one of every ten Americans in our sample used the word “terrorists” without any prompting. The other words shown demonstrate just how upset and disgusted most Americans were by the actions of these individuals. People in our sample frequently used words like “stupid,” “criminals,” “crazy,” “disgusting,” “idiots,” “traitors,” and “horrible.”. Overall, a sentiment analysis of comments indicated that the words respondents used to describe those who stormed the Capitol building were 9 times more likely to be negative than they were to be positive. Many gave just single-word responses, but some couldn’t help but use a string of negative descriptors. For example, one individual simply responded with “Despicable, disgusting American terrorists” and another wrote “delusional, brainwashed, dangerous, extremist.” Several used the opportunity to note Trump’s role in motivating the mob, one writing that those storming the Capitol were “Trump loyalists who are being misled by lies” with another noting that “this problem was caused by Donald Trump. He should get a punishment.”

We also present the 20 most common words used in responses to our question in the graph below. Once again, it is clear that the vast majority of these words are quite negative. Some contextualization is also useful. When people used the word “domestic,” it was almost always because they were using the phrase “domestic terrorists.” Likewise, when Trump’s name was invoked, it was usually to note that the rioters were “Trump supporters,” though in some cases, Trump voters in particular used this opportunity to insist that he was not to blame for what happened. For example, one Trump voter wrote, “It was a set up to make Trump supporters look bad and to unseat the president.”

The final graph illustrates some clear differences in the language used by those who voted for Biden in the election compared to those who voted for Trump. While Biden supporters overwhelmingly settled on the word “terrorists” to describe the mob, Trump voters used a wider array of terms. The most common among these was “antifa,” indicating that some Trump voters are already repeating the lie that the rioters were not Trump supporters at all but were instead antifa, a moniker some critics use to describe a far-left anti-fascist movement. For example, one Trump voter simply wrote, “Antifa and BLM – NOT TRUMP SUPPORTERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” while another said “Imposters for the Democratic Party to make Trump look bad,” referring to both antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement.

But it is worth noting that many other Trump voters had negative things to say about this group with “terrorists,” “crazy,” “wrong,” “rioters,” “idiots,” and “criminals” all among the top words used when describing the mob. In fact, Trump voters used almost seven-times as many negative words as positive ones.

It is also clear how the event has turned off non-voters and those who voted for a third party candidate in 2020 — the top 10 words among those individuals were almost uniformly negative. We found almost nobody in this group who expressed sympathy for those who stormed the Capitol.

Overall, our analysis of these open-ended responses demonstrates just how upsetting most Americans found the attack on the Capitol building and reflects how angry they are with those who perpetrated the violence. Given the outrage expressed by those in our survey, it is no surprise that there is overwhelming support for prosecuting those involved in the storming of the Capitol building and that a majority of Americans also believe that Trump should be impeached for his role in provoking the insurrection.

Linkon and Russo: Beyond Economic Populism

The following article, by Sherry Linkon and John Russo of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, is cross-posted from Working-Class Perspectives:

Predictably, politicos and commentators spent much of 2020 debating why working-class voters supported Trump and how the Democrats could win them back. Although we’ve occasionally contributed to these conversations, we’re also getting tired of them. They tend to envision “the working class” as if it were one group with a well-defined set of interests, and worse, they treat working-class people as a marketing problem. These habits reflect not only the commentators’ distance from the working class but also, for many, a sense of meritocratic superiority to people they view as deluded, foolish, stupid, or even amoral. If we want to improve the lives of the working class, and especially if we want to heal the divisions of American political and public life, we need to reframe the problem.

That should start by resisting any effort to define the working class in any singular way. Simplistic definitions fuel both stereotyping and resentments. Defining based on occupation or income highlights important differences in economic interests, but it doesn’t address the resentments that even many fully-employed, unionized, economically-comfortable working-class people feel in the U.S. today. To define the working class based on the college degree, as many pollsters do, ignores the complex array of forms, amounts, qualities, and outcomes of education. Focusing on one variable, like education, might be necessary in polling, but it erases the relationships among education and occupation, social status, and cultural patterns. Electricians and plumbers may lack college degrees, but their specialized training yields them secure and well-paid work as well as pride in their blue-collar status. Meanwhile, K-12 teachers often have graduate degrees but earn less than plumbers or electricians. If we link class with unions, a common (if outdated) assumption, then we might also note that teachers may be more likely belong to active unions than many industrial workers these days.

One illustration of the problem of simplistic definitions is the either/or debate about how to appeal to “the working class” as a voting bloc: either promote economic populism or talk about racial justice, either embrace the dignity of work or value the dignity of marginalized people. These options suggest that the working class is either white, blue-collar, and struggling economically or Black and Latinx and focused on racial rather than economic justice. If we reject this false choice and envision a working class that includes all of these people, one that might not respond as a bloc to any one political strategy or message, it can seem like we’re ignoring class altogether. Addressing working-class concerns – economic, practical, but also social and cultural – requires more complex thinking about class, culture, and policy.

It doesn’t help that discussions about working-class voters so often focus on how politicians should talk rather than on what they should do. That’s part of why we appreciated the invitation to contribute to a forum in  Social Policy, due out next week,to suggest what the Biden administration could do to help the working class. Simply framing the question in terms of policy rather than politics is a step in the right direction.

We recommended a few fairly obvious actions, starting with getting the coronavirus under control, a concern for everyone but especially for the working class. Even before the pandemic, many working-class people had limited access to good health care, and they were more likely to have underlying medical problems that made them vulnerable to COVID. Contrary to the old blue-collar stereotype, most working-class jobs today are in the service industry, including many of the jobs we now deem “essential” – grocery clerks, nursing assistants, janitors, delivery drivers, postal workers. This has put many workers at risk. Others face economic risks because of lost jobs. To address the needs of the working class, we need to stop the spread of the virus and provide substantial economic relief to ensure that millions of Americans with little or no savings will not lose their homes or go hungry.

To strengthen the economy going forward, the Biden administration should also develop a broader industrial policy that includes infrastructure projects, a buy American program, improved labor laws, improved training opportunities, and a higher minimum wage. All of this will create jobs and improve economic conditions for working people. It can also help address some social problems. Expanded access to health care, improved early childhood and K-12 education, and support for elder and child care could decrease some of the despair that has played out in high rates of drug addition, family violence, and mental health issues for many in the working class.

These are not new ideas, nor are we alone in suggesting them (see, for example, the list from the Economic Policy Institute). But to make a real difference for the working class, Biden and Congress must move beyond talking about these ideas in campaign speeches, as they have done in the past. They need to take significant action.

This will all help, but we need to do more to heal the divisions that leave many in the working class feeling disrespected and aggrieved. That will require a change in attitude from those who so often look down on the working class, smugly certain that they have earned their privileges and are intellectually, culturally, even morally superior to those who are struggling. As philosopher Michael Sandel argues in The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good?, the pandemic makes clear both our mutual dependence and the hollowness of the refrain that “we are all in this together.” We failed to come together, he suggests, because of a combination of unprecedented inequality that separates those who succeeded economically have become ever more disconnected from those who are struggling and a deeply-embedded belief that those on top deserve their success because they have the education needed to compete in the global economy. The winners see themselves as better than the losers, and the losers are all too aware that the winners not only don’t care but actually hold them responsible for their own problems. As a result, neither those on the top nor those on the bottom actually believe that we are all in this together.

Sandel argues that we must reject the toxic mix of professional-class hubris and working-class resentment that has shaped so much of our public life in recent years. That will require more than economic populism. We’ve spent a lot of time this year applauding doctors and nurses but we too often ignore the janitors, medical assistants, teachers’ aides, and food service workers who are less visible and widely underpaid, treated with disdain, seen as less valuable, less smart, less human. Raising their wages is a step in the right direction. Sharing their stories is a good start. Real healing will require a step beyond: to genuine respect.

To serve the interests of the working class, we should learn from the model of Bargaining for the Common Good, an organizing strategy that emphasizes connections between the needs of workers and the needs of communities and in the process builds relationships and collective power.  It is time to embrace policies as well as attitudes and relationships that move us all toward a greater sense that we really are in this together.

Teixeira: Time for a Democratic Brand Reset

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

Only a few more days of the Orange One! But Joe Biden and the Democrats have a huge challenge ahead of them in terms both of governance success and future electoral success. At The Liberal Patriot, John Halpin has a lucid analysis of the need for a Democratic brand reset to accomplish all this. You will perhaps recognize some of the themes I have touched on in my posts. But there’s plenty new here as well. I heartily endorse it all–this is exactly the course the Democratic Party needs to chart.

“Given the upcoming transition to unified Democratic control of government, it would be wise for the party as a whole—and the Biden/Harris administration and congressional leaders, in particular—to acknowledge and take steps to fix its image problem. With Republicans facing their own internal fissures post-Trump, the House majority on the line, and Democrats locked out of many state legislatures, governorships, and Senate seats across the country, the party needs to think clearly about strategies that add voters to its ranks rather than subtract them.

Unfortunately, to many voters, the Democratic party is the one where you get handed a list of 25 rules at the door about what you can and can’t say; and cliques of people—probably lawyers—whisper and size people up; and you can’t find a beer and you just want to get the hell out before the lecture on “Structural Normativity and Late-Capitalist Hegemony” gets going.

Instead, the Democrats need to be the party where people of all backgrounds get together to ensure that everyone has a job and health care. The party that stands up for American workers and businesses in the world, and that fights the bullies and thugs who prey on the vulnerable and weak. The party that welcomes new people and has their back and doesn’t cast out anyone who looks, talks, or thinks differently. The party that believes in a fair shot for everyone and special privileges for none….

With a new Biden administration taking office, it is time for a reset. What needs to be done? This is not an exhaustive list but here are a few ideas to help get the Democratic brand back on track as the party of the people, not the elites.”

Read it all! Halpin’s ideas for the reset are spot on.

Pew Research Study: Biden Has Public Support Needed for Key Reforms

Some insights from “Biden Begins Presidency With Positive Ratings; Trump Departs With Lowest-Ever Job Mark: 68% of public does not want Trump to remain a major political figure in the future,” based on a study by The Pew Research Center, “conducted Jan. 8-12 among 5,360 U.S. adults, including 4,040 who say they voted in the presidential election”:

As Joe Biden prepares to take office just days after a deadly riot inside the U.S. Capitol, 64% of voters express a positive opinion of his conduct since he won the November election. Majorities also approve of Biden’s Cabinet selections and how he has explained his plans and policies for the future.

Donald Trump is leaving the White House with the lowest job approval of his presidency (29%) and increasingly negative ratings for his post-election conduct. The share of voters who rate Trump’s conduct since the election as only fair or poor has risen from 68% in November to 76%, with virtually all of the increase coming in his “poor” ratings (62% now, 54% then).

Trump voters, in particular, have grown more critical of their candidate’s post-election conduct. The share of his supporters who describe his conduct as poor has doubled over the past two months, from 10% to 20%.

The study notes further that “About two-thirds (68%) say Trump should not continue to be a major national political figure for many years to come; just 29% say he should remain a major figure in U.S. politics.” Also, “A narrow majority of Americans (54%) say it would be better for the country for Trump to be removed from office, with Vice President Mike Pence finishing the last few days of his term…” However,  “45% say Trump should remain in office until his term ends Jan. 20.”

The survey also found that “Among voters overall, 65% say Biden definitely or probably “received the most votes cast by eligible voters in enough states to win the election”; 54% say he definitely won the most votes.” Yet, “34% incorrectly say Trump definitely or probably was the rightful election winner.”

In addition, “57% – approve of Biden’s Cabinet choices and other high-level appointments. Almost half (46%) expect Biden to improve the way the federal government in Washington, D.C., works, while 28% say he will make things worse; 24% say he will not have much of an effect.”

Clearly, President-elect Biden and his fellow Democrats have reason to be hopeful that they have adequate political capital to enact major elements parts of their legislative agenda, such as pandemic vaccination acceleration and Biden’s stimulus proposals. But the thin margins they hold in congress will require successful bipartisan oputreach to enact many Democratic priorities.

Silver: GA Runoff Election’s Powerful Impact

The significance of the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff elections have been overshadowed by the media coverage of Trump’s goon riot in the U.S. capitol. Fortunately, Nate Silver provides an insightful take on the Warnock and Ossoff victories at FiveThirtyEight. As Silver notes,

“…Having a Senate majority is a big deal. It means that Democrats should be able to confirm Supreme Court justices and President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet. They’ll likely be able to pass additional COVID-19 stimulus legislation at the very least, along with other budgetary policies through reconciliation. Other policy changes would require eliminating the filibuster — unlikely — or getting cooperation from enough Republicans. But at least Democrats will have the chance to bring to the floor election-reform bills like H.R. 1 and policies like Puerto Rico statehood, giving them a fighting chance instead of having Majority Leader Mitch McConnell squash them from the start.

And symbolically? Well, it’s Georgia. With the possible exception of Texas, no other state has been as much of a symbol of an emerging Democratic coalition of college-educated white voters and high turnout among Black voters and other minority groups. Both Warnock and Ossoff are breakthrough candidates, not the moderate, white Blue Dogs that Democrats have traditionally nominated in Georgia. Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. preached, will become the first Black senator from Georgia and the first Black Democrat ever to serve in the U.S. Senate from the South. Ossoff will become the youngest senator elected since Biden, in 1973, and the first Jewish senator elected to the U.S. Senate from the South since the 1880s.

Then there’s the fact that the runoffs came during a lame-duck period in which — in a predicate to Wednesday’s violence — Trump and other Republicans tried to overturn and subvert the results of the election and undermine faith in the democratic process. If Republicans get the message that anti-democratic actions have negative electoral consequences, they may be less inclined to push democracy to the brink in the future.”

To all of the above, we might also add that the GA Senate runoff elections complete Trump’s loser trifecta — during his term, he has booted the White House, the House of Representatives and now the Senate to the opposition party. Republicans who cling to him as he circles the drain run the risk of looking like dimwits when they next run for re-election.

Teixeira: How Can the Democrats Press Their Advantage?

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

Republicans are in disarray after the disastrous Georgia election. As Sabato’s Crystal Ball put it, Democrats now have the “51 percent trifecta” that will shortly allow them to control the Presidency, Senate and House, albeit with thin majorities that could easily disappear in the 2022 midterms. How can Democrats make the best of their current opportunity and maximize their chances of retaining political control for more than two years?

It seems obvious that the less the country and political debates focus around Donald Trump in the next six months, the better off Democrats will be and the more they’ll be able to get done. For better or worse, it now seems minimizing Trump-centered politics will have the challenge of a second Trump impeachment. That train, as they say, seems to have left the station.

Whatever else a House vote for impeachment may accomplish, nobody seems to be arguing that it will actually help Biden organize and pass his legislative agenda. The preferred argument is that it won’t really matter. I find this highly dubious but the best way I can think of to at least minimize damage is to delay the Senate trial as long as possible–Clyburn has suggested 100 days–or, even better, never have it, since it will hoover up political oxygen and is highly unlikely to actually result in a conviction (the only way, people should be reminded, that Trump can be prevented from running again in 2024; a second impeachment by the House has no effect on this).

So that brings us back to the necessity of large-scale action to beat the COVID pandemic and deliver enough stimulus to rapidly restore the economy to health. Without successful action along these lines, Trumpism could easily come roaring back; the idea that impeaching Trump and otherwise holding him to account is the key to preventing this is a chimera.

Therefore, Democrats and the left need to exert some discipline in the months ahead and resist the temptation to talk endlessly about Trump, Trump, Trump. That is what he wants. Instead they need a laser focus on improving the country’s situation fast and broadening the Democrats’ coalition. That is the best way to undercut Trumpism and fragment his support.

The alternative could be grim. A surge in white working class turnout and GOP support could easily sink the Democrats in 2022. Don’t think it couldn’t happen. The Democrats’ 51 percent trifecta is mighty fragile.

Teixeira: Georgia and the Road Forward

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

Things look a little brighter today than just 2 days ago! I will discuss two items in this post: (1) How did the Democrats pull off their twin victories in Georgia?; and (2) What does this mean for how the Democrats can/should move forward?

To the first item. To the extent we can rely on available data, the differences are striking between how the Democrats put together their Senate victories yesterday vs. Biden’s win in the state last November. In Biden’s victory, despite the conventional narrative, it was apparent that his win was actually not attributable to exceptional performance among black voters. Nate Cohn and colleagues observed, based on precinct-level analysis of the Georgia Presidential vote:

“Joe Biden put Georgia in the Democratic column for the first time since 1992 by making huge gains among affluent, college-educated and older voters in the suburbs around Atlanta, according to an Upshot analysis of the results by precinct. The Black share of the electorate fell to its lowest level since 2006, based on an Upshot analysis of newly published turnout data from the Georgia secretary of state. In an election marked by a big rise in turnout, Black turnout increased, too, but less than that of some other groups.”

But they presciently added:

“[T]he relatively low Black share of the electorate could mean that Democrats have the potential for a better showing, perhaps even in the two Senate runoffs in January.”

And that does indeed appear to be what happened. Nate Cohn provides these data about yesterday’s [Tuesday’s] runoffs:

What this suggests is not that black turnout actually went up relative to November—that’s quite hard to do in a runoff election—but that it fell less than among other groups. Put another way, while absolute black turnout didn’t go up, relative black turnout did.

That assessment is supported by data from AP/NORC VoteCast, a survey source generally considered superior to the exit polls. The VoteCast data show blacks at 29 percent of Georgia voters last November but 32 percent yesterday. Conversely, white voter share declined from 63 to 60 percent. White noncollege voter share declined more, from 36 to 34 percent, but white college share also declined from 27 to 26 percent.

VoteCast data also allow us to compare voter preference across the two elections, which also reveals interesting differences. Biden carried black voters by 92-6 but Ossoff did even better at 94-6 (I will use Ossoff as the point of comparison since this was the closer race). But Biden did better among white voters, particularly white college voters. He had just a 22 point deficit among these voters, significantly smaller than Ossoff’s 30 point deficit among this same group. Biden also did better among white noncollege voters (-54 vs. -58 for Ossoff) though the difference was smaller.

So two somewhat different paths but with positive, albeit very narrow, results in each case. Ideally, Democrats would put together the strong points of each path and turn Georgia into the next Virginia. But it could also turn into the next North Carolina. We shall see.

So where do the Democrats writ large go from here? The winning strategy seems obvious. It seems almost certain the Democrats will not be able to get rid of the filibuster so many of the ideas Biden ran on will have to be put aside for now. But he should now be able to lean into One Big Thing the Senate victories should allow him to do–something that will greatly help the country and could allow the Democrats to escape a backlash midterm election such as Obama experienced in 2010.

That One Big Thing is a massive budget reconciliation bill to get the economy going again and advance some progressive priorities in the process. Jonathan Chait:

“Democrats can use reconciliation to pass economic relief, including the $2,000 checks that proved highly popular. This will give them a chance to accelerate the economic recovery, which in turn will create conditions likely to make voters reward Democrats in the majority.

They can also enact many of Biden proposals to shore up and expand Obamacare. A budget reconciliation bill could increase subsidies for people buying insurance in the exchanges, and also create a public option. Democrats have a fair amount of consensus on these changes. They might be able to also create some form of general income support, like “baby bonds.”…

It will be a battle. Crafting (and, hopefully, passing) the Budget Reconciliation Acts of 2021 is likely to be the drama that defines Biden’s domestic legacy.”

That’s exactly right. And it would fit perfectly into what Biden ran on. Bill Kristol:

“[Biden} made a bet on America. He never wavered from the promise to unite the country and actually get things done. People to his left scoffed. Trump supporters disdained him. But Biden never gave in. Tonight’s result in Georgia will at least give him a fighting chance to do what he promised—and to focus not just on the very real threats we face, but also on the opportunities before us.”

In other words, he ran as a liberal patriot. Here’s hoping he can make good on the promise.