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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Teixeira: Is Trump’s Approval Rate Increase for Real?

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

How Worried Should You Be About Trump’s Rising Approval Ratings?

On the one hand, if his approval rating is truly going up a lot, you should be very worried. No matter who the Democratic nominee is, they’ll have a hard time beating Trump if his approval rating starts pushing 50 percent..

Since Gallup just reported a reading of 49 percent, perhaps it’s time to panic? Not really. The Gallup number appears to be an outlier; the current 538 poll-averaged approval number is 43.9 percent, at the high range of Trump’s first term but far below 49 percent. Still, the 538 rolling average does show an increase of about 2 and a half points in Trump’s rating since August.

Interestingly, even that increase could owe more to survey sampling problems (“differential nonresponse bias”) than an actual rise in Trump’s popularity. Political scientist Jacob Long explains on the Post’s Monkey Cage blog:

“As occasional Monkey Cage contributor [statistician] Andrew Gelman has explained, differential nonresponse bias refers to situations in which changes in polling results are caused by shifts in who responds to the polls rather than actual changes in public opinion. It may be that Trump’s approval is going up because Democrats feel demoralized by the apparently hopeless impeachment trial and so don’t feel like talking to pollsters. Or it could be that Republicans feel so moved to support Trump at when he’s under attack that they are more likely to talk to pollsters than usual.

One example of this occurred during the 2012 election. Gelman and his collaborators Sharad Goel, Doug Rivers, and David Rothschild showed that after Barack Obama’s poor first debate performance against Mitt Romney, the polls showed Romney’s chances of beating Obama surging. But when looking at the survey responses from a group of people who had been asked about their voting intentions repeatedly throughout the campaign, Gelman and colleagues found that survey respondents’ minds weren’t changing after the debate. Rather, Obama supporters were less likely to respond to the surveys during that negative news cycle.

As Trump was heading toward a widely-expected acquittal in the impeachment trial, were Democrats similarly just feeling unenthused about talking to pollsters?…

With Gallup, it looks like almost all the variation in Trump’s job approval from one poll to the next can be explained just by looking at how many of each party’s supporters are in their sample…..Gallup’s shift is the clearest and most dramatic among the pollsters, but there remains a general pattern that is largely consistent with probability that results are partly determined by differential nonresponse….

This means there is reason to believe Trump’s historically stable job approval hasn’t changed much since before the impeachment process began.”

Of course, none of this proves that Trump’s “true” approval rating is not creeping upwards in the real world. It could be and Long responsibly outlines some of the reasons why such a trend cannot be ruled out. But his quantitative analysis does make differential nonresponse bias a very plausible explanation for the recent upward trend in Trump’s approval rating.

So don’t panic…at least not yet.

Teixeira: Understanding Polarization

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

Ezra Klein’s new book, Why We’re Polarized, has been getting generally positive reviews, especially for its extensive summary of a vast literature on social psychology, group identities and emotional reasoning. How highly one values the book therefore depends a lot on how illuminating one finds this literature about our current political situation. I am less enthusiastic than some about this literature so I was less enthusiastic about the book

And I did feel the book had a serious weakness which Francis Fukuyama correctly noted in his review of the book in the Washington Post:

“The bottom line of Klein’s argument is that polarization was driven fundamentally by race. The Republican Party has become the home of angry white voters anxious that the United States is turning into a “majority minority” society, as California already has, a reality epitomized by the election of Barack Obama.

There is no question that race played an important part in the 2016 election and that for many Trump voters, cultural identity was a more significant factor than economic self-interest. It is otherwise impossible to explain why so many working-class whites supported Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare, a policy that benefited them above all.

But cultural identity is fed by many factors besides race, and understanding this complexity is very important if the Democrats hope to win back the Oval Office and Congress. Failure to appreciate the legitimate grounds for resentment by populist voters is a general failure of liberals everywhere, from Turkey and Hungary to Britain and the United States, and one of the reasons they keep losing elections…..

Klein dismisses economic drivers of populism like globalization and the loss of working-class jobs, noting that if those were the fundamental issues, then left-wing populism rather than the nativist variety should have seen a big upsurge in support.

There is no question that race has resurfaced in an ugly manner in American politics, driven by an overtly racist president. But culture and identity are much broader than race. Gender is at least as important: Men have been losing status and economic power to women in workplaces and families steadily for the past generation. Many people in 2016 didn’t so much support Trump as vote against Hillary Clinton, who represented to them a certain kind of self-satisfied feminism and came into the election with very low trust and favorability ratings.

The urban-rural divide that Klein correctly notes as central to the red-blue division encompasses a host of cultural values beyond race, related to religion, patriotism, respect for traditional sources of authority and other lifestyle issues. Working-class whites in rural areas have undergone a social decline epitomized by the opioid crisis, which has led to a drop in male life expectancy in the United States. As Angus Deaton and Anne Case have argued, this is a result of despair engendered by job loss and social isolation.

Opposition to our current immigration system does not necessarily have to stem from xenophobia and racism: Polls from Gallup and Pew show that more than 60 percent of Americans have positive views of immigration but more than 50 percent worry that so much of it is illegal. High culture today is produced in liberal agglomerations like New York, Los Angeles and London, and it has created a kind of intellectual snobbery that is bitterly resented by people who don’t like being dismissed as ignorant racists.”

I feel this is rather a big miss in a book that purports to explain our current level of polarization and the rise of right populism. Such a miss of course is consistent with the current world outlook of not just Klein and his website Vox but a wide swathe of contemporary liberal opinion in and around today’s Democratic party. In my view, if we’re ever going to become de-polarized that outlook needs to change.

You will not be surprised to learn that such a change is not among Klein’s recommended list of fixes for the polarization problem. That’s a pity.

Linkon: The Class Culture War

The following article by Sherry Linkon, professor of English at Georgetown University and a faculty affiliate of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, is cross-posted from Working-Class Perspectives:

New York Times columnist David Brooks has proven himself both interested in and repeatedly confused by the working class. A few weeks ago, in a piece arguing that Bernie Sanders is wrong to blame capitalism for economic inequality, Brooks wrote that “Class-war progressivism always loses to culture-war conservatism because swing voters in the Midwest care more about their values — guns, patriotism, ending abortion, masculinity, whatever — than they do about proletarian class consciousness.” He goes on to point out that working-class wages are going up faster than incomes for top earners, which he cites as evidence that capitalism benefits everyone.

As with so many debates about how Democrats could win support from working-class voters, Brooks presents a false choice between class and culture that betrays his inability to make sense of how class works.

Brooks chastises Sanders for misunderstanding capitalism, but Brooks misunderstands how closely class and culture are intertwined. I’ve spent the last 25 years studying that relationship, especially the way economic restructuring didn’t just undermine the social position of working-class people but also brought changes to working-class culture. Many of the “conservative values” Brooks identifies are tied to economic conditions. And class consciousness explains why, after years of stagnation and a huge shift of income and wealth to the richest Americans over several decades, some working-class people are finally gaining a little ground.

In Steeltown USA: Work and Memory in Youngstown, John Russo and I argued that a “politics of resentment” emerged in that community during the years when its steel industry was collapsing. That resentment spread throughout the region during the decade after the mills closed. Some of it was directed at institutions that people had long counted on to serve their interests – business, unions, government, churches, all of which had failed to protect them from the economic and social costs of tens of thousands of lost jobs. It grew as politician after politician made and broke promises to help. It festered as people read national media stories about how deindustrialization was part of a process of “creative destruction” that would revitalize the economy, a claim that in some ways proved true – but mostly for well-educated people on the coasts and in big cities, not for displaced steelworkers.

Resentment is a cultural response to economic struggle, and it has political consequences.  In Youngstown in the early 1980s, it translated into strong support for a mob-connected, crass, political outsider, county sheriff Jim Traficant, who had stood on laid-off workers’ front lawns and refused to let them be evicted when they couldn’t pay their mortgages. Youngstown voters elected Traficant as their congressman in 1984. He served until convicted of crimes in 2002.

Forty years after Traficant’s rise, the politics of resentment have become a national (and in many ways global) trend, leading voters to reject candidates they view as elitist and entrenched in favor of those who promise to challenge and change the status quo. While we don’t think of Barack Obama as benefiting from the politics of resentment, the belief that government needed fresh blood and new ideas drew many to support him, including many white working-class people who, some feared, would never vote for a black man. Resentment contributed to Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012, especially after he was heard dismissing “47%” of voters at a high-ticket fundraiser. Hillary Clinton made the same blunder in 2016, famously dismissing Trump supporters as “a basket of deplorables,”while Trump seemed to have successfully channeled Traficant’s populist bluster.

Among the cultural values Brooks identifies as central to the cultural wars is masculinity. I agree that this is an important cultural issue for many working-class men who feel anxious about their place in the world and therefore defensive about men’s roles. But that, too, has economic roots. When industrial jobs that offer good pay and benefits go away, men feel more than just an economic loss. For generations, a key element of masculinity was the ability to support a family. While the family wage has long been a thing of the past, men still struggle with shame and frustration over not being able to be good providers. Equally important, few of the jobs that have replaced industrial work offer men opportunities to demonstrate traditional masculine qualities like strength, toughness, or power over machinery and materials. Contemporary working-class jobs, most of which are in the service sector, pay less – not just in dollars but also in the kind of validation that these men seek.

Let’s consider the other half of Brooks’s argument, too. It’s true that wages for lower-level workers are rising, and yes, the rate of growth these days is faster for lower-income workers than for management these days. That sounds great, but it’s hardly proof that capitalism works well for everyone. Has Brooks forgotten the recent history of economic inequality? Inequality.org maps it all out clearly, showing how the incomes of the top 1% doubled between 1968 and 2017, while poverty rates held steady. Incomes for top earners have soared from around $633,000 annually in 1979 to more than $2.7 million in 2017, while incomes of the bottom 90% — that’s most of us, folks – rose by less than $10,000 a year, all the way to a grand $36,000.

But, okay – things are getting better. Why would that be? It isn’t because of productivity, as Brooks claims. Productivity and pay both increased at about the same rate between 1948 and 1979, but then productivity continued to rise while wages stagnated. A tighter labor market also makes a big difference, though it’s hard to imagine it will be enough to ever make up for the disparities of the last two decades. As the Economic Policy Institutenoted in 2018, “while wages are growing for most workers, wage growth continues to be slower than would be expected in an economy with relatively low unemployment.”

Even more important in Brooks’s misunderstanding of working-class politics is his refusal to acknowledge that class consciousness might have had anything to do with wages going up. Since 2014, 29 states and 44 localities have raised the minimum wage in their jurisdictions. And sorry, David, that’s not because bosses don’t “have workers by the throat.” It’s because workers organized to fight for economic justice. The Fight for $15 and dozens of living wage campaigns that led to states and cities hiking the minimum wage offer great examples of class consciousness in action.

No doubt, conservative politics, including opposition to immigration and gun control as well as the anxiety some white Americans feel about the country’s changing demographics – not to mention more overt white supremacism – will play a role in this year’s election. But if Democrats want to win working-class votes, they shouldn’t buy into Brooks’s either/or vision. Instead, they should recognize that what people earn, the jobs they do, the state of their communities, and their values are all intertwined.

Teixeira: Biden Electability

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

The data continue to suggest Biden is a stronger candidate against Trump than Sanders. Below are some data from G. Elliott Morris, who does political data for the Economist, and from Alan Abramowitz.

They clearly show Biden is better overall and in swing states against Trump than Sanders. If the election is not close and favors the Democrats, perhaps either of these candidates could win. But if it’s close, Biden’s superior appeal could mean the difference between victory for the Democrats and defeat.

Therefore, we come back to the point I made yesterday: the Sanders electability case rests entirely on the assumption that his candidacy will send turnout through the roof, while Biden would leave many voters sitting on their hands. That Sanders’ turnout bonus would supposedly make up for any differences in candidate appeal we see in the data right now.

Tomorrow I will examine the plausibility of this assertion in light of data from 2016, 2018 and recent polls.

Teixeira: Can Sanders Overcome Liabilities and Energize Progressive Voters?

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


There’s no doubt that it’s here, as a spate of polls confirm. Not that Sanders is the front-runner overall, as the chart from 538 below shows. But he has definitely improved his position significantly, even as Warren’s has radically declined. This is obviously excellent news for the Sanders campaign on the cusp of the Iowa caucuses with the New Hampshire primary right behind.

So Sanders looks more like a plausible nominee than he ever has before in this campaign. But could he beat Trump?

Of course he could in the weak sense that it’s possible, given that Trump is so unpopular and that Democrats seems so motivated. But is it likely?

That’s the big question. The Sanders campaign and most of his supporters would naturally answer this in the affirmative. Their theory of the case, as far as I can make it out, is pretty simple. Bernie will so energize potential Democratic voters that any losses he might incur among swing or moderate voters will be drowned under a tsunami of Democratic turnout. Indeed, Sanders generally argues that this is the only way the Democrats can win the election; a more moderate candidate will fail to generate this turnout and will lose.

Maybe. But then again, maybe not. Sanders will, after all, have a lot of liabilities to overcome. They are well-summarized by Jonathan Chait in a blistering polemic on the New York magazine site:

“Sanders has gleefully discarded the party’s conventional wisdom that it has to pick and choose where to push public opinion leftward, adopting a comprehensive left-wing agenda, some of which is popular, and some of which is decidedly not. Positions in the latter category include replacing all private health insurance with a government plan, banning fracking, letting prisoners vote, decriminalizing the border, giving free health care to undocumented immigrants, and eliminating ICE…

Sanders combines unpopular program specifics in the unpopular packaging of “socialism.” The socialist label has grown less unpopular, a trend that has attracted so much media attention that many people have gotten the impression “socialism” is actually popular, which is absolutely not the case.

Compounding those vulnerabilities is a long history of radical associations. Sanders campaigned for the Socialist Workers’ Party and praised communist regimes. Obviously, Republicans call every Democratic nominee a “socialist.” But it’s one thing to have the label thrown at you by the opposition, another for it to be embraced willingly, and yet another thing altogether to have a web of creepy associations that make it child’s play for the opposition to paint your program as radical and dangerous. Viewing these attacks in isolation, and asking whether voters will care about Bernie’s views on the Cold War, misses the way they will be used as a stand-in to discredit his entire worldview. Nobody “cared” how Michael Dukakis looked in a tank, and probably not many voters cared about Mitt Romney’s dismissive remarks about the 47 percent, but both reinforced larger attack narratives. Vintage video of Bernie palling around with Soviet communists will make for an almost insultingly easy way for Republicans to communicate the idea that his plans to expand government are radical.”

It’s hard to believe that these liabilities won’t cost Sanders a significant number of votes from more persuadable voters toward the middle of the political spectrum. So it all comes down to whether Bernie and his brand of politics really can produce the bonanza of votes he promises from an “energized” progressive electorate.

Again, could be, but I have my doubts. I’ll detail them with an empirically-based (naturally) analysis in a future post.

Dionne: From ‘Drain the Swamp’ to an Open Sewer – Or How Trump’s Corruption and Disinterest in Communities Hurts America

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. adds to the arsenal of Democratic talking points in a recent column. Regarding Trump’s utter failure to lift a finger to help America’s cities, Dionne writes:

As the House impeachment managers were chronicling President Trump’s self-involved corruption, a group of mayors made another convincing case against Trump — without ever mentioning his name.

Trump rose to power by promising to “drain the swamp” and take on a Washington out of touch with the concerns of Americans and the challenges facing their communities.

He has broken both promises. His blatant corruption is part of a larger politics of spectacle that has nothing to do with fixing things or making life at least a bit better in our nation’s neighborhoods.

Great points there. Not only did Trump fail to ‘drain the swamp’ — He turned it into an open sewer, arguably the most corrupt Administration in U.S. history, certainly using the number of indictments and convictions as a metric.

Dionne continues, noting “Many complain about polarization and a politics mired in ideology. In fact, Trump survives by making polarization worse. Ideology and cultural warfare allow him to survive while avoiding talk about policies and problems that don’t interest him in the least.”

Dionne goes on to note the real-world problems American mayors are compelled to address with credible solutions. And it is striking, how little their concerns have to do with the Trump’s wholly self-involved agenda. “They talked about the housing crisis, better schools, broadband access and a wish for greater federal commitment to local economic development plans,” Dionne writes. “Being mayor,” he [Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson] continued, “is about delivering water service and making sure you have parks for your families to play in. It’s very practical stuff, it’s very important stuff.” Voters “have gotten so tired of Washington not really doing a whole lot.”Dionne concludes,

“As Trump’s lawyers made their case against impeachment on Saturday with a mixture of bombast, half-truth and outright falsehood, I was struck that there was one assertion by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) that they would never challenge. Schiff had observed that you could always trust the president to “do what’s right for Donald Trump.” Wouldn’t it be nice to have a president who cared about our problems, and not just himself?”

That’s a pretty good question for any Democratic candidate to ask audiences, and not a bad tagline for ads in the Fall campaign.

Teixeira: Want to Lose the 2020 Election? Advocate a Universal Ban on Fracking

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

Fracking and the use of natural gas is a contentious policy issue upon which people vigorously disagree. I personally am a dove on the issue, favoring tighter regulation but believe it will serve–is serving–as a bridge away from the dirtiest energy–coal–toward completely clean sources like wind, solar and (yes) nukes. But I get the other side of this and see much room for debate.

What shouldn’t be particularly debatable is that the politics of a fracking band would likely be very bad for the Democrats in the 2020 election. This problem is explored in some detail in a NY Times article on Pennsylvania by Lisa Friedman and Shane Goldmacher.

“Though they are both Democrats, John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, and Bill Peduto, this city’s mayor, have their differences on the environment….

But they agree on one thing: a pledge to ban all hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, could jeopardize any presidential candidate’s chances of winning this most critical of battleground states — and thus the presidency itself. So as Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren woo young environmental voters with a national fracking ban, these two Democrats are uneasy….

Mr. Peduto said “the Warren-Sanders, ban-all-fracking-right-now” position would “absolutely devastate communities throughout the Rust Belt” and pit environmentalists against workers at a time when Democrats need both.

“If a candidate comes into this state and tries to sell that policy, they’re going to have a hard time winning,” he said….

“It goes to the heart of the debate that we’re seeing within the Democratic Party right now, which is the appetite among progressives and the left for an agenda that remains unpalatable to swing voters in the states that determine the Electoral College,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the Cook Political Report.

A November poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Cook Political Report found that only 39 percent of Pennsylvania swing voters saw a fracking ban as a good idea, even as nearly 7 in 10 of those same voters said they supported the idea of a “Green New Deal” for the environment.”

Data in the poll also show that the idea is unpopular with the overall electorate in the state: just 22 percent support it and 53 percent are opposed. These figures, according to the poll, are essentially identical in Michigan and Wisconsin.

So a fracking ban, as advocated by Sanders and Warren, is clearly a loser in what are arguably the three most important states for the Democrats in the 2020 election. (Biden, as usual on these kinds of left litmus test issues, has a different and more sensible position: tighter regulations, a ban on new oil and gas drilling leases on federal lands, and a transition away from natural gas over time.)

So it may come down to a fracking ban vs. beating Trump. This should be an easy choice to make.

Teixeira: No, “Racial Resentment” Didn’t Elect Donald Trump

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

I don’t suppose I’ve succeeded in getting many of you to actually read the Grimmer and Marble paper I linked to the other day. That’s too bad because it really is a very important paper. The paper is basically an accounting exercise–and I love accounting exercises!–which establishes very cleanly and clearly, using straightforward mathematics that is not really arguable, that “racial resentment” (itself a vexed term–see the famous Ryan Enos/Riley Carney paper) and similar attitudes simply cannot explain where Trump got the votes to be elected. And if that theory–to this day, the dominant theory in political science and general discourse–cannot explain where Trump got the votes, then what good is it since it doesn’t, you know, explain anything.

But if I can’t get you to read the Grimmer and Marble paper, admittedly a bit of an academic political science slog, perhaps I can get you to read Policy Tensor’s crisp summary and explanation of the findings. And, yes, I do think the findings have political implications–important ones.

“An extraordinary new paper by Justin Grimmer and William Marble at Stanford has totally and irretrievably debunked the racial resentment thesis that traced the catastrophe of 2016 to white racial prejudice. But the paper, “Who Put Trump in the White House? Explaining the Contribution of Voting Blocs to Trump’s Victory,” does much more than that. It explains why the vast bulk of the literature that has emerged got it so very wrong. And it does so by mathematically demonstrating the limitations and biases of previous analyses in a straightforward manner that is a model of simplicity and elegance. This is easily the most significant work to appear on the question. In many ways, it is as much a theoretical intervention as an argument over 2016; one that has all the hallmarks of a seminal work — that creates a before and after. And it has the potential to irrevocably change the conversation in both academic political science and sophisticated political consulting. So what have Grimmer and Marble shown?

They begin by noting that, in order to understand 2016, or any other election, it is not enough to show that voters with such and such attribute (denoted by x, eg racial resentment) voted for this candidate at higher rates. This is so because the effect may be swamped by compositional effects (ie, the share of people with that attitude in the population may have fallen) and turnout rates (ie, the people with that attitude may have turned out at lower rates). In order to understand how a candidate won, we must pay careful attention to all three factors at once: composition, turnout, and vote choice.

The number of votes that Trump received from voting bloc (ie, whatever attribute) x is given by the product of (1) the share of the electorate in voting bloc x, (2) the turnout rate conditional on voting bloc x, and (3) the rate at which they voted for Trump conditional on turnout and bloc. This a mathematical fact, there is no arguing with it:

The problem with the vast bulk of the literature is that it pays no attention to these confounding effects and pays near-exclusive attention to the vote choice of various blocs (“authoritarians” &c). In a survey of 83 papers analyzing 2016, they found a mere 5 that had paid attention to all three. The vast majority of reported results, 94 percent, are suspect because they fail to take into account these mathematical facts. This includes the entirety of the vast literature supporting the racial resentment thesis.

Once you start adding up the correct way, the racial resentment thesis turns out to be flat out wrong.”

Read the Policy Tensor piece for charts from the paper and clear explanations of what they mean.

Update on Democratic ‘Trifectas’ in State Politics

Among the most regrettable developments for Democrats in recent years, the Republican  takeover of a majority of state legislatures and governorships has done a lot of damage. At the same time, the GOP-friendly American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was able to spearhead enactment of hundreds of regressive laws in state legislatures each year. ALEC and the Republicans have enacted state  laws that: undermine environmental protection; privatize corrections facilities for profit; change rules to benefit big tobacco; and weaken consumer safety protection, to name a few.

Democrats reversed the trend in the 2018 midterm elections and picked up six “trifecta” states, in which one party has a majority of both houses of the state’s legislature plus the governorship. Dems added another trifecta in 2019. At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik reports that “Republicans retain a narrow 26-24 edge in governorships…But that’s a big shift from mid-2017, when Democrats held just 15.”

According to Ballotpedia, “There are currently 36 trifectas: 15 Democratic and 21 Republican. Democrats would have to pick up trifecta control in three states in 2020 to match the Republican total. Click here for an inter-active map depicting trifecta control by state.

Ballottpedia reports also that, “As of December 31, 2019, Republicans controlled 52.1 percent of all state legislative seats nationally, while Democrats held 46.6 percent. Republicans held a majority in 61 chambers, and Democrats held the majority in 37 chambers. One chamber (Alaska House) was sharing power between two parties.”

The 16 states with “divided government” include: AK; DE; KS; KY; LA; MA; MI; MN; MT; MD; NJ; NC; NH; PA; VT; and WI. Dems now hope the edge provided by a presidential election will provide a pivotal boost to their candidates for Governor and state legislative seats in November. In a ‘blue wave’ election, it’s not hard to see how Dems could get a net trifecta pick-up of 3 or 4 states.

Democrats now hold the Secretary of State offices, which count the votes in elections, in 22 states. Three states, Alaska, Hawaii and Utah have no such office, and assign vote counting duties to the Lieutenant Governor’s office. Since 2018, Democrats have held the SOS offices in swing states AZ; CO; MI; NJ; PA; WI.

Teixeira: Real Origins of Trump’s Support

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

It’s Still Important to Understand Where Trump Support Came From.

And many liberal Democrats still don’t–though they think they do. Political scientists Justin Grimmer and Will Marble look at the facts in a new paper, “Who Put Trump in the White House? Explaining the Contribution of Voting Blocs to Trump’s Victory

“A surprising fact about the 2016 election is that Trump received fewer votes from whites with the highest levels of racial resentment than Romney did in 2012. This fact is surprising given studies that emphasize “activation” of racial conservatism in 2016—the increased relationship between vote choice and racial attitudes among voters.

But this relationship provides almost no information about how many votes candidates receive from individuals with particular attitudes. To understand how many votes a voting bloc contributes to a candidate’s total, we must also consider a bloc’s size and its turnout rate.

Taking these into account, we find that Trump’s most significant gains came from whites with moderate attitudes about race and immigration. Trump’s vote totals improved the most among swing voters: low-socioeconomic status whites who are political moderates. Our analysis demonstrates that focusing only on vote choice is insufficient to explain sources of candidate support in the electorate.”