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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


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.”

Teixeira: Biden’s White Noncollege Gains, State by State

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

As noted, the key to Biden’s dominance of the race so far, and Trump’s inability to dislodge him, has been Biden’s ability to cut into Trump’s 2016 margins among white noncollege voters, the demographic Trump was depending on to get himself re-elected.

Morning Consult recently released data from a variety of swing states that, among other things, break down the race in each state by white college/noncollege. Here is Biden’s current performance among white noncollege voters in the consensus top six swing states (MI, PA, WI, AZ, FL, NC) with Biden’s margin improvement relative to Clinton 2016 in parentheses, as estimated by the States of Change project.

Michigan -6 (+15)
Pennsylvania -13 (+19)
Wisconsin 0 (19)
Arizona -7 (+18)
Florida -21 (+13)
North Carolina -33 (+17)

Pretty impressive eh? It’s very interesting that improvements are large not just in the key Rustbelt states but also in the key Sunbelt states. It continues to amaze me that this isn’t a bigger part of the narrative around the election when the data are so damn clear.

Teixeira: Trump’s Minnesota Mirage

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

Minnesota, despite the noisy assertions of the Trump team, was always going to be a very heavy lift for him in this campaign. Back in November, I wrote with John Halpin:

“The Democratic candidate in 2020 will seek to keep the Democratic streak going, while Minnesota, given the closeness of the 2016 result, will be on the short list of states that Trump targets to try to expand his coalition. This may be difficult; he is quite unpopular in the states, with a current negative net approval rating of -15.

Nonwhites were just 11 percent of Minnesota voters in 2016. Asians/other race were the largest nonwhite group at 4.5 percent and they supported Clinton 50-36 percent. Blacks were 4.3 percent of voters and went heavily for Clinton by 90-6 percent. Hispanics were just 2 percent of voters and supported Clinton 61-30 percent. In addition, white college graduates, an unusually large 36 percent of voters, backed Clinton by 22 points. The bright spot for Trump was white non-college voters, 54 percent of the voting electorate, who favored him by 21 points….

The logical strategic choice for Trump would be to enhance his 21-point margin among white non-college voters from 2016. A 10-point margin shift in Trump’s direction among this demographic group would result, all else remaining the same, in a 3-point GOP victory. A more difficult target would be to reduce his deficit among white college voters by 10 points; that would result in a narrow 1-point victory for him.”

Well, none of that is happening for Trump. That last two polls of MN, by New York Times/Sienna and CBS/Yougov, each have Biden ahead by 9 in the state. Not only has Trump failed to increase his 2016 margin among white noncollege voters by that 10 point target, he has failed to increase it at all, down by 5 points in the CBS poll and cut in half in the New York Times poll. And among white college voters, he is losing by several points more than he did in 2016 according to both polls.

Sure, it’s still possible Trump could take the state. But right now, it looks like a mirage.

Greenberg: Trump’s Failure to Address Covid-19 Crisis, Health Care Reform Cuts His Support from Working-Class

In “How Trump Is Losing His Base: Focus groups with working-class and rural voters show the deep health care crisis in America, and trouble for Trump’s re-election,” Stanley B. Greenberg reports at The American Prospect:

The heartbreaking health care crisis that is ravaging working-class and rural communities threatens to cut short Donald Trump’s political career, and demands a forceful response from opposition Democrats. It will teach big lessons about how to reach working people who are struggling, regardless of color.

That is clear to me after listening to white working-class voters in Zoom focus groups for the American Federation of Teachers and Voter Participation Center in the first week of August, outside of metropolitan areas in rural Wisconsin, the Mahoning Valley region in Ohio (also known as Steel Valley), northern Maine, and suburban Macomb County, Michigan.

Greenberg notes that “The results of these sessions also fit with the results of a phone survey I conducted of working-class voters in the 16 battleground states,” and “The Republican House margin dropped 13 points across the white working class” in the 2018 midterm elections.

Greenberg calls the pandemic “the perfect storm,” and notes further,

I have never seen such a poignant discussion of the health and disability problems facing families and their children, the risks they faced at work, and the prospect of even higher health care and prescription drug costs. The final straw was a president who battled not for the “forgotten Americans,” but for himself, the top one percent, and the biggest, greediest companies.

That is why most in the Zoom focus groups pulled back from President Trump. Three-quarters of these voters supported Trump in 2016, but less than half planned to vote for him now. Even those who still supported him did not push back when other participants expressed anger with his doing nothing about health care, fostering hatred and racism, dividing the country, siding with the upper classes, and having no plan for COVID-19. This is a life-and-death issue for them, as much as nearly any other group in American society.

He adds that “Like lots of other working people, they are looking for a leader who will make big changes in health care, fight for working people over big business, and unite the country to defeat the current economic and public-health crisis.” In addition, “In today’s working-classand rural communities, health care is everything. In introductory remarks, participants in the focus groups went right to the personal health care crises they were facing every day.”

Greenberg shares some statistics regarding the prevalence of helath disabilities in working-class communities, and explains,

Across the country, 12.6 percent of the population has disabilities, rising to 15.1 percent in rural areas. Black and Native American populations are more likely to have disabilities than their white counterparts. The rate is over a quarter for those 65 to 74 years old and half of those over 75 years—all groups that are overrepresented in these rural areas. And structural racism has played a powerful role here: 20 percent of Blacks with disabilities were employed at the beginning of this year, compared to 30 percent of whites and Hispanics with disabilities.

Then I looked at census data for the congressional districts where these sessions were being held. It was a new window into America in the pandemic. In suburban Macomb County, the disability rate looks like the rural areas, with 14 percent of both whites and Blacks disabled. In northern Maine, the numbers show one in five with disabilities, slightly more for whites. In Ohio’s Sixth Congressional District, both one in five whites and Blacks are disabled. And seniors in these areas are even more disabled than other rural Americans.

So COVID violently brought together the personal health crises of these people and the failed and corrupted government response, breaking their emotional bond with Trump.

Just throw out the words “health care,” and people relayed a train of horrors: a “$16,000 deductible,” employers throwing them off health insurance, “ridiculous” premiums, a $400 bill for their asthma medicine paid for out of pocket. They spoke of the frustrations of making too much money to be eligible for Medicaid but not enough to stay in the solid middle class. They explained how people avoid treatment because they can’t pay the associated costs. “The way we deliver health care is just unbelievable,” said one woman from Michigan, “the amount of waste and how much it costs to let people go bankrupt to pay for medical bills.”

While some of the respondents were critical of the shortcommings of the Affordable Care Act, they believe that Trump “failed to take the virus seriously and has just made a mess of it. They think he is failing at the most important issue for them…Respondents despaired about the lack of a national plan of action, with everyone “just left on their own.” Greenberg adds,

In emails we asked the participants to send to President Trump, you can feel that the spirit that led them to join the working-class revolt is just broken. While some hope he will get back in the right direction, most used their email to express their deep disillusionment. You can feel that they wanted a president who didn’t divide the country and make it a “laughingstock” (two writers used that exact word) internationally. They wanted a president who put the interests of the people, not just big business, first.

“I supported you in the beginning over Hillary but in the end unfortunately, you show me you’re just not for the people,” wrote one man from Wisconsin. “You lied to the American people about COVID,” wrote another. “You are everything that is wrong with America, you have effectively ruined this country,” added a woman from Ohio. “Congrats, you suck.”

Greenberg concludes, “COVID has shattered so many lives, but also seemingly insurmountable political barriers. The great majority of working people, regardless of color, are desperate for a government that stops taking direction from the pharmaceutical companies, and brings the boldest feasible changes to our health care system.”

Teixeira: Riot On?

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

Protest-associated violence continues and shows no signs of going away. In Rochester Friday night:

“Police fired pepper balls and tear gas, and authorities said officers were hospitalized with cuts, serious swelling, burns and bruises from “projectiles and incendiary devices.” A bus stop went up in flames, and patrons hurriedly left restaurants where people threw tables and broke glass amid protest chants.”

BLM leaders, such as they are, appear either unwilling or unable to stop it, despite the obvious fact that such violence is bad for their movement and progressive politics in general.

By and large, liberals and progressives have seemed remarkably untroubled by this unfortunate development. Probably the main reason for this is that, so far, it hasn’t had much of an effect on Biden’s lead over Trump and general Democratic chances in 2020.

There are several reasons for this. One is that Biden has generally said what he needed to say in terms of condemning violence on all sides, albeit with a bit of a lag at times. But the main reason is that Trump is held in very low esteem by most voters and is not viewed as a trusted agent to deal with race relations and tamping down violent conflicts. So, voters may detest violent protests but so far that does not make these same voters feel like switching their support to Trump if he does not already have it.

This situation may not last forever. Yes, America in 2020 is not America in 1968 and Trump is not nearly as clever a politician as Richard Nixon. But if public opinion about the protest movement becomes negative enough, it could affect the political climate in a way that would hurt Biden and other Democrats.

Consider these recent public opinion data summarized by Geoffrey Skelley on 538:

“Americans are less inclined to view as peaceful those protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha compared with those who were protesting the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May. This week’s survey from The Economist/YouGov found that 41 percent of Americans considered the protesters themselves “mostly peaceful,” while 40 percent said they were “mostly violent.” This marked a sizable departure from early July, when the pollster last asked this question — back then, 54 percent viewed the protesters as more peaceful, while only 31 percent viewed them as more violent. And late last week, a Yahoo News/YouGov survey found that a majority of Americans — 54 percent — thought the protests had gone too far, compared with 31 percent who said that they hadn’t.”

David Byler of the Washington Post notes:

“Earlier this summer, Americans solidly backed the protests against police brutality and racism. But that support has been diminishing in recent weeks, in particular after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, Wis., and ensuing riots. According to YouGov, 46 percent of respondents say that “protesters want to destroy America” comes closer to their view than the milder “protesters want to improve America.” While support for the Black Lives Matter movement spiked in June, opposition has been rising since.”

Byler, while he notes, as do other political observers, that so far Biden has ridden out this storm without much damage, outlines the potential problem for Biden:

“The riots pose a danger for Biden. If riots continue to dominate coverage of the protests, the public will probably become more critical of the broader movement. Trump’s dream scenario — Americans slow the spread of covid-19, the economy recovers and his campaign successfully ties Biden to the looting and rioting — could still come to pass.”

So the complacency of progressives and liberals around protest violence seems foolish. Just because something has not happened yet does not mean it will never happen.

Perhaps even more disturbing is that some on the liberal left seem inclined to make excuses for rioting, looting and arson on the grounds that it is the frustrated outcry of the oppressed….and besides it’s just buildings, they’ve got insurance, etc. This unbelievably lame and morally bankrupt attitude is encapsulated by the respectful hearing accorded to Vicky Osterweil’s new book In Defense of Looting. Rather than ignoring this demented manifesto the author and her screed have been respectfully covered in revered liberal outlets like NPR, the New Yorker and the Nation. This is not a good sign.

Cathy Young puts it well in a terrific article on Arc Digital on The Politics of Riots:

“Ultimately, progressive attitudes toward violent protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement are shaped by the belief that the protests are on the right side, the rioters are simply good guys driven too far by frustration and despair, and whatever damage they may do pales in comparison to the slaughter of black people by racist forces.

But for one thing, this view ignores the fact that many of the violent protesters are genuine radicals whose motives are not identical to peaceful protesters’. Some want violent revolution. Some just want to break stuff.

For another, it ignores the fact that while too many innocent Americans — especially black Americans — are killed by the police, far more black lives are lost in places where the social order starts to collapse. This summer’s spike of violent crime in Chicago is one example. “We talk about Black Lives Matter, but I’m sick and tired of what’s going on in these streets,” Erikka Gordon, a black Chicago resident, told ABC7 recently after losing two nephews to gun violence.”

So let’s get our priorities straight: the rioters are not good guys and what they do is harmful not helpful. They are enemies of the progressive cause and will continue to be so even if Biden gets elected. It’s time liberals and progressives jettisoned their illusions on this score and made their opposition to these tactics crystal clear.

Dems Face Challenges in the Largest Swing State

Early September seems like a good time to take a look at the challenges Democrats face in the largest swing state. Dexter Filkins obliges in his New Yorker article, “Who Gets to Vote in Florida? With the election hanging in the balance, Republican leaders continue a long fight over voting rights.” As Filkins sets the stage:

For candidates in the coming Presidential election, Florida presents a singular opportunity and a vexing challenge. While other big states, such as Texas and California, reliably go to Republicans or Democrats, Florida is unpredictable. Polling suggests that Joe Biden could plausibly lose there and win the election, though the state’s twenty-nine electoral votes would surely make a victory easier; Trump, by most analyses, cannot win without them.

Stretching eight hundred miles from end to end, Florida encompasses the Deep South counties of the panhandle and the urban centers of Miami, Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale, where Jewish and Latino voters predominate. There are growing Puerto Rican enclaves around Orlando, and main-line Republican areas in Naples and Tampa, linked demographically and culturally with the Midwest. This mixture creates an almost perfectly divided electorate. Statewide races are often decided by a few thousand votes, out of millions cast.

Even though Florida is closely split, Republican leaders dominate state politics; since 1999, they have controlled both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion. One key to their success has been restricting access to the polls. Lower turnout, particularly among Black voters, has usually favored their side. “Older and more affluent voters tend to be more conservative, and they tend to vote more often,” Daniel Smith, a professor of politics at the University of Florida, told me. That fact has motivated a relentless campaign to tamp down voter turnout. The most overt efforts were hindered by the Voting Rights Act, which until 2013 obligated places with a history of racial discrimination to get Justice Department approval before making major changes in electoral laws. But the less conspicuous efforts have had momentous effects. In 2000, they arguably helped decide the race for the Presidency.

Filkins goes on the flesh out the sordid history of voter suppression in the Sunshine State, where as little sunshine as possible is cast by Republicans on their ballot-counting and voter-verification processes. Looking toward the 2020 presidential election, Filkins notes,

This November marks the first Presidential election since 1980 in which the Republican National Committee will not be bound by a court decree that has tightly limited its activities around voting sites. The decree arose from a Democratic lawsuit charging that, in a New Jersey governor’s race, off-duty police officers, some carrying guns and wearing armbands that read “National Ballot Security Task Force,” had intimidated Black voters. “We fully expect Trump volunteers to be at every polling place in the state on Election Day,” Peñalosa said.

Polling averages show Biden leading Trump in Florida at this point, and with no voter suppression and an honest count, there would be every reason to bet on Biden winning a popular majority in the state, and an Electoral College majority. As it is, however, Democrats have to bring their ‘A game’ over the next 8 weeks to check these twin threats.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teixeira: How Biden Could Lose

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

How Biden Could Lose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brownstein: Dems Gain from Trump’s Shrinking Coalition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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