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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Georgia Emerges as Key State in 2020 Election

Anne Branigan reports “Georgia Sees Unprecedented Turnout, Long Lines on First Day of Early In-Person Voting” at The Root:

Georgia is being closely watched by elected officials from both parties, as well as voting and civil rights activists, for a number of reasons: It is widely considered a battleground state and its recent history of voter purges, as well as allegations of voter suppression in the 2018 midterms, led many to question the integrity of the Peach State’s voting processes even before the coronavirus pandemic shifted the way many Georgians plan to vote.

Georgia’s election is of increasing media interest, as Democrats approach “toss-up” margins in two U.S. Senate races and the state assembly, as well as the presidential race. And a strong Black voter turnout could provide Dems with the margin of victory. Branigan notes,

Early voting typically favors Democrats, and polling from this year suggests that Black people, in particular, prefer voting in person over casting a ballot via mail, despite concerns about spreading the novel coronavirus. CNN, citing data from Catalist, which tracks voter databases across the country, reports that among competitive states for the 2020 presidential election, Georgia has the largest share of ballots cast by Black voters. Black voters—considered one of the most stalwart and influential voting blocs of the Democratic party—also represent a greater share of pre-Election Day votes in Georgia than they did four years ago, Catalist’s numbers show. In 2016, they made up 29 percent of all early voting; so far in 2020, Black voters have comprised 35 percent of all early ballots. In total, 425,000 votes have been cast in the state thus far.

Branigan notes that “some accused state election officials of trying to suppress the vote. One Cobb County voter reported waiting more than 9 hours in line, while singer and songwriter Johntá Austin wrote on Twitter that he stood in line for 11 hours on Monday waiting to cast a ballot.”

Georgia Republicans, who control balloting through the Governor, Secretary of State and state legislature majorities, blame the pandemic and a shortage of poll workers for the disproportionate problems experienced by Black voters in their state. The question is, will at least one of of four white voters give Dems the support needed to pick up two senate seats and Georgia’s electoral college votes? Democrats have every reason to invest more resources in that possibility.

No pressure or anything, but it’s not hard to see how a healthy turnout of Georgia progressives and moderates could prove instrumental in ending the Trump/McConnell nightmare — and set the stage for a new era of hope and opportunity for the nation.

Tampa Bay Times Endorsement of Biden Sharpens Focus in Florida

There is an ongoing argument about how much newspaper endorsements of political candidates actually matter in the digital age. But any presidential candidate would rather have, than not have, the endorsement of the major daily newspaper of Florida’s second largest metropolitan area. So, here are some excerpts from the well-reasoned Tampa Bay Times endorsement of Joe Biden for President of the United States:

Joe Biden should be our next president. A battered and divided country must hit the reset button. The nation needs a leader who can pull us back together, who wants to pull us back together. Sure, disagree on policies and debate the issues. But a president should not routinely sow discord. Self-promotion should not be his best skill. Our allies should not wince when the president speaks. The less fortunate should feel they are a part of us, not castoffs on a cruel game show. Biden promises needed change. The alternative could be perilous for our democracy.

Biden knows tragedy, and he’s at his best when talking about moving beyond it. He lost a wife and infant daughter to a car accident and an adult son to a brain tumor. He speaks of pain and healing and recovery — with authority and empathy. He comforts military families, knowing how it feels to send a son into a combat zone. He still believes in the legislative process, even when it’s divisive and bogged down. He hasn’t lost his faith in the system and looks for ways to bring sides together. Biden is not afraid of the hard work involved in finding common ground. To him, compromise isn’t a dirty word, but he’s also known to fight hard for what he believes, like when he championed the Violence Against Women Act in the 1990s…Trump is angry, divisive, entitled. Biden is open, empathetic, caring. He would return decency and decorum to the presidency, a welcome example at home and abroad.

Credit the TBT editorial board with understanding that Americans are sick of Trump’s polarizing rhetoric and his daily deluge of rancid insults and threats. It’s no accident that Biden, the Democrat who articulates a vision of healing and unity, won his party’s nomination. The endorsement continues,

Biden’s adversaries try to paint him as beholden to liberal extremists, but the record exposes that tired political tactic. He has worked with Republicans on foreign policy and criminal justice. He has backed protesters’ right to protest, but condemned looting and violence. He’s a centrist, willing to push big ideas, but also capable of keeping his own party’s left wing in check.

Biden’s sensible, pragmatic approach to leadership will help the country combat the coronavirus. He has vowed to be transparent about who’s contracting the disease and how often. He’ll trust the experts and the scientists as we push for a vaccine. He won’t rush the recovery to score political points. To protect himself and those around him, he’ll wear a mask, setting an example of good judgment.

In stark contrast, the TBT editorial board notes, “At the outset, Trump publicly pooh-poohed the virus, even as he was privately telling journalist Bob Woodward it was a grave danger. There is no better example of Trump’s central character flaw: He will always put self-interest above national interest.” Further, “Where Trump and his allies want to take away access to health care, Biden will work to improve and expand it, including lowering the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 60. He would keep the Affordable Care Act and try to reinstate the parts eroded during Trump’s tenure. He proposes capping health insurance premiums at 8.5 percent of family income.” Trump, on the other hand has failed to come up with anything resembling a health care plan, and he gutted the CDC’s capacity to address the pandemic.

The endorsement also holds Trump accountable for his grotesque abuse of the presidency, noting that “Trump has undermined democracy at every turn, belittling American institutions including the intelligence community, wailing about “rigged” elections, flirting with white supremacists, cozying up to dictators, dismissing established science, and attacking anyone who disagrees with him — even those who have served his administration.” In addition,

Trump hasn’t created law and order, as he often boasts. To the contrary, he has fanned violence with his rhetoric, and he shows little respect for the rule of law. When his longtime ally Roger Stone was convicted of making false statements, witness tampering and obstructing in connection with the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Trump came to the rescue by commuting his sentence. Trump’s cronies get indicted and convicted at an astounding rate. He’s also pardoned several of his lawbreaking friends and supporters, a trend surely to continue if he is elected to a second term…Trump loves to bluster, hates to plan, revels in chaos and lacks concern for anyone but himself. He is hurting America.

An apt summary of the damage done to America by Trump. Looking toward the future, the Tampa Bay Times editorial board concludes: “Over a long career and the gantlet of a presidential campaign, Biden outmatches his opponent at every turn. He’s a decent man and a leader who can help heal the country and put it back on course to meet the pressing challenges of our times. America needs a new president. TheTampa Bay Times Editorial Board strongly recommends Democrat Joe Biden.”

Biden’s Widening Lead Among Senior Voters

At CNN Politics, Harry Enten explains “How Trump’s losing among seniors at a historic rate“:

Biden’s well on his way to doing better with seniors than any Democratic nominee in at least 24 years.

Take a look at our latest CNN/SSRS poll. Biden’s up by 21 points among voters 65 and older. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out over the weekend put him up by 27 points with seniors…These are, to put it mildly, massive differences from 2016. In the final average of registered-voter polls, Trump led Clinton by 5 points among seniors. His advantage was 6 points among likely voters. These polls are suggesting something along the lines of 25- to 30-point shifts in Biden’s direction.

Enten adds, “Since the conventions in August, the average of live-interview polls that meet CNN standards have Biden up by an average of 8 points with seniors. Even if these polls aren’t as emphatic for him, that still means a movement of nearly 15 points from where Clinton stood in the final polls of 2016.”  Regarding the swing state with the most electoral votes, Enten notes, “In Florida, for instance, where seniors make up around 30% of voters, Biden’s winning with voters 65 and older. Last time around, Clinton lost those voters by nearly 10 points in the final preelection polls.”

As for the reasons for Biden’s growing lead, Enten writes, “Coronavirus may be responsible for some of the tremendous advantages Biden got in the CNN and NBC News/Wall Street Journal polls, though I’m not sure it is the root cause…As I pointed out previously, Biden’s been doing better with seniors than Clinton since before the pandemic hit earlier this year. A year ago, he was up 11 points over Trump in a CNN poll.”

Enten doesn’t explore other possibilities, which could include concerns about Trump and Republicans undermining Social Security and Medicare, or ‘Trump fatigue’ – senior voters disgusted with Trump’s relentless anger, whining and divisive rants. Trump’s screwing around with the post office and his stated refusal to support the principle of a peaceful transition if he loses may also hurt him, even with conservative seniors.

“Whatever the root cause,” Enten concludes, “losing seniors is one big reason that Trump is a significant underdog at this point. They’re about 25% of the electorate. When you’re doing 15 points or more worse with a quarter of voters, you’ll likely be in big trouble. And so it is for Trump.”

Teixeira: Latinos in Florida Apparently Not So Enthusiastic About Trump

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

There has been considerable rending of garments about Trump’s inroads into the Hispanic vote, especially in Florida. But how much of a problem is this really for the Democratic ticket? Here’s the latest from the very high quality New York Times/Sienna poll of Florida (overall, Biden +5).

“The Times/Siena poll found no signs of any significant gains by Mr. Trump among the state’s Hispanic voters…with Mr. Biden leading among that group, 58-34. In Miami-Dade County over all, Mr. Biden leads, 61-30. In both cases, the results are comparable to or better than Hillary Clinton’s margin four years ago…”

In FL in 2016, States of Change estimates Clinton carried the Hispanic vote by just 15 points. Maybe Hispanics are less of a problem for Biden than people seen to think they are.

DCorps: Race unchanged, but millennials assured and white working class men impressed

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

Debate leaves structure of the race untouched, which is extremely favorable to Biden uniting the country, on middle class values, education, and dealing with the racial strife. The debate affirmed powerfully that Trump governs only for his party and for billionaires and elites.

  • The debate cut the undecided in half — breaking evenly for Biden and Trump, but that helps Biden too.
  • Biden was strong and self-confident in the debate and gained standing with white millennials who were a key part of consolidating the progressive coalition.
  • White working class men may end up playing the biggest role. They came away feeling less positive about Trump (7 points) and they gave Biden 6 more points in the race against Trump.
  • White working class women move to Trump after the debate, but turned to Biden on every issue affecting the middle class.
  • Trump’s aggressive open up the economy drove away white millennials and other voters, but not the white working class who gave him higher marks on the economy.
  • Trump made big gains on health care and keeping health care costs down, but they were most pronounced with white working class women – who went in giving Biden an 11 point margin and came out, supporting Trump on health care by 6 points. Trump led on drug costs while Biden was defending the ACA.
  • The debate put Biden ahead on the big battle for the forgotten Americans that may settle how far Biden can take his advantage.
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Dann and Jennings: A Law and Order Platform to Unite Working-Class Voters

The following article, by Marc Dann, former  Attorney General of Ohio and head of DannLaw and Leo Jennings III, a leading Northeast Ohio political consultant and media specialist, is cross-posted from Working-Class Perspectives:

Donald Trump has positioned himself as the “law and order” president, because the term provides a positive framing for the racially-tinged rhetoric he uses to divide members of the white working and middle classes from people of color. The Guardian’s Tom McCarthy explains the tactic as “convincing voters that crime is a threat – scaring them into such a belief, if necessary – and then convincing them only you can stop it.”  For decades, American politicians have used it “to play on racist fears, using code language – ‘crime’, ‘inner cities’, ‘quiet neighborhoods’ – in an attempt to connect especially with white voters.”

Pundits continue to debate how large a role Trump’s explicit and implicit racism and his promises to crack down on crime and criminals—particularly those with dark skin–played in his 2016 victory. He’s now directing his hate-filled oratory at the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests that started after the killing of George Floyd and have ramped up again last week after the officers who shot Breonna Taylor were not charged with her murder. Such rhetoric seems more effective than ever at motivating his hardcore supporters and some white suburbanites who are appalled by the violence they see in the news every day.

Teixeira: Pennsylvania – Ground Zero of the 2020 Campaign

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

Pennsylvania is widely believed to be the “tipping point” state of the 2020 election, including by the Trump campaign apparently. Right now, the 538 rolling average has Biden ahead by around 5 in the state, pushing 50 percent support, and their model gives him a 3 in 4 chance of taking the state. The latest high quality poll in PA (Fox, Biden +7) shows Trump’s difficulties and Biden’s potential winning formula in the state.

* Biden’s 8 point margin among white college graduates is running slightly ahead of Clinton’s 2016 support.

* Biden’s 17 point deficit among white noncollege voters is 15 points less than Clinton’s in 2016.

* Biden’s 74 point advantage among nonwhites (who are dominated by black voters) is essentially identical with Clinton’s margin in 2016.

These data make clear the contours of Trump’s challenge in the states. No wonder he’s spending so much time there.

Teixeira: The Bluing of the Buckeye State?

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

Ohio hasn’t perhaps gotten as much attention as it deserves this cycle. That’s a little odd because it is very much in play–indeed, more so than GA and TX about which one hears much more. Right now, Biden is running a 1 point lead in the 538 polling average for the state and their model very slightly favors Biden (52 percent) to take the state. In contrast, the 538 averages have Biden behind by a point in GA and 2 points in TX and their model currently favors Biden in neither state.

How’s Biden doing so well in OH? In my Path to 270 in 2020 report with John Halpin we remarked on how the Democrats might be able to take back OH:

“For the Democratic candidate, even increasing Black turnout and support back to their strong levels in 2012 (they both declined significantly in 2016) would still leave them with a 4-point deficit in the state. The most efficacious change for the Democrats would be to cut Trump’s advantage with white non-college voters, concentrating on white non-college women, where Democrats’ deficit in 2016 was 30 points less than among men. Shaving 10 margin points off of Trump’s advantage among white non-college voters would, by itself, bring the Democratic candidate within 2 points in the state, and replicating Obama’s 2012 performance among this demographic in the state would allow them to actually carry the state, all else from 2016 remaining the same.

In all likelihood, a combination of these changes, at different levels, would be necessary for the Democrats to prevail. Trump, in a sense, just needs to hold serve.”

So, how’s Biden doing by these metrics? Cue the data! The two most recent OH polls are Fox and Quinnipiac.

In the Fox poll (Biden +5), Biden is carrying white college graduates by 7 (an 8 point swing in the Democrats’ favor) and white noncollege voters by 18 points (a 15 point pro-Democratic swing).

In the Quinnipiac poll (Biden +1), Biden is carrying white college graduates by 13 (a 14 point swing) and losing white noncollege voters by 19 (also a 14 point swing). And he is carrying black voters by 85 points, actually 5 points better than Clinton did in 2016.

So let’s hear it for the great state of Ohio! May the bluing last through election day.

For a very detailed geographic analysis of political dynamics, I recommend the Crystal Ball piece by Kyle Kondik on the state. Excellent.

Brownstein: How Dems Can Leverage Health Care Concerns in SCOTUS Fight to Win Swing States

In his article, “Democrats’ SCOTUS Message Could Really Work in Swing States: The party may have an easier time taking back the Senate if it focuses voters’ attention on the Court’s impact on health care.” in The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein sees a powerful opportunity opening up for Democrats:

The struggle over Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement on the Supreme Court could help propel Democrats to the brink of a Senate majority in November’s election. But whether it lifts them over that threshold could turn on the terms of the confirmation fight. Given the nature of the states that will decide Senate control, the Democrats’ path to a majority may be much easier if they can keep the debate centered on economic issues—particularly the survival of the Affordable Care Act—rather than social issues, especially abortion.

The reason: The confirmation fight is likely to further weaken the position of endangered Republican senators in Colorado, Maine, and Arizona—states where polls show that a solid majority of voters support legal abortion. But even if Democrats flip all three, they will still likely need to win one more seat to take the majority. And in the next tier of states where they could possibly flip a seat, the politics of abortion will make that more difficult.

What the confirmation fight could do is “give the Democrats a path to picking up two or even three Senate seats but make it harder in those other four or five states,” says Matt Mackowiak, an Austin-based GOP strategist.

Teixeira: Will the Impending Struggle Over the Next Supreme Court Justice Help Biden or Trump?

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

To be honest, it’s hard to game out exactly how this is going to go down but, as always, the data we currently have are a helpful guide. As Harry Enten points out, while the he polling data could change over time, right now it looks the situation could well help Biden more than Trump.

“A new Marquette University Law School poll paints the landscape well. Nationally, it finds that 59% of Biden voters say that appointing the next Supreme Court justice is very important to their vote. Compare that with only 51% of Trump voters.

This finding matches what we saw in a CNN/SSRS poll last month. In that poll, 78% of Biden backers told pollsters that nominating the next justice was extremely or very important to their vote. That compared with 64% of Trump supporters. (It was 47% Biden supporters and 32% Trump supporters who said it was extremely important.)

Compare these numbers to what we saw heading into the 2016 election. The final CNN/ORC poll in that cycle showed that 58% of Trump supporters said that nominating the next Supreme Court justice was extremely important to their vote, while only 46% of Hillary Clinton voters said the same. In the 2016 exit poll, Trump beat Clinton by a 15 point margin among those who put Supreme Court appointments as the most important factor to their vote.

In other words, it seems, at least initially, that unlike in 2016, a Supreme Court nominating fight could be more of a motivating factor for Democrats than Republicans….

New York Times and Siena College polled voters this week in Arizona, Maine and North Carolina about their views of the presidential candidates and the Supreme Court.

Biden was more trusted to pick a nominee in the average of all three states by a 53% to 41% margin. That was actually larger than his average lead against Trump in the horserace of 50% to 41% in the three states.

This phenomenon of Biden getting slightly more favorable numbers on who should pick the next Supreme Court nominee than in the horserace matches what a recent Fox News national poll found.

But perhaps more interesting is what the New York Times found among persuadable voters (i.e. those who said they could change their mind or were not backing either Biden or Trump). They preferred Biden to pick the next nominee by a 49% to 31% margin.

And among those voters who might not vote (i.e. those who said were less than very likely to cast a ballot), Biden led Trump by a 52% to 23% margin on who would be better at picking the next Supreme Court justice.”