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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Teixeira: The Democratic Coalition Is Falling Apart

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, politics editor of The Liberal Patriot newsletter and co-author with John B. Judis of the new Book “Where Have All the Democrats Gone?,” is cross-posted from The Liberal Patriot:

Let’s face it: the Democratic coalition is in poor shape. It’s springing leaks everywhere—young voters, Hispanic voters, black voters, women voters, working-class voters, moderate and independent voters. Of course, some Democrats dismiss the accumulating evidence as irrelevant because it’s too early, too biased, or not consistent with recent positive election results. It reminds me of the widely shared meme of the anthropomorphic dog calmly sipping his coffee in a burning room saying: “This is fine.”

And for sure, it is early. But these are very disturbing data that indicate the scale of the Democrats’ challenge in 2024. Two recent data releases document this ongoing decay of the Democratic coalition. First, looking at the national picture, Adam Carlson at the excellent Split Ticket data analytics site, has produced a compilation of cross-tabular data that allows us to compare average current Democratic performance with Democratic performance from 2020 to estimate shifts in preference since that election by key group. The second data source is a major survey of battleground states and districts by Democracy Corps/PSG/Greenberg Research (DCorps) that provides some rich demographic breakdowns of vote preference and opinion where the 2024 election will almost certainly be decided.

The Democratic “base” as a whole. This group isn’t in the Split Ticket data, but is displayed in the DCorps battleground data. In their definition the Democratic base is an amalgamation of Democratic-friendly demographic groups: “Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, LGBTQ+ community, Gen Z, millennials, unmarried and college women”. Overall, across this constellation of groups, Biden trails Trump in the presidential battleground by 4 points—no better for Biden than among all voters in the battleground.

These base voters also give Trump a higher approval rating than Biden; three-quarters think the country is off on the wrong track. Their most pressing issue by far for the country is inflation and the cost of living. Crime, homelessness and violence is second while, interestingly, abortion only ranks eighth.

Young voters. The Split Ticket data show Biden carrying 18-29 year olds (primarily Gen Z) by 16 points, a 7-point pro-Trump shift relative to 2020. (Note: where Catalist data are available, I use their data alone, rather than averaged with AP/Votecast and Pew validated voter data as Split Ticket does.) Among 30-44 year olds (primarily Millennials), Biden is ahead by only 8 points, a 6-point pro-Trump shift compared to 2020.

The DCorps battleground data suggest the situation may be particularly dire with white Gen Z and Millennial voters. Trump is 28 points ahead of Biden among white Gen Z voters in the presidential battleground and 25 points ahead among white Millennials. Their most pressing issue by a wide margin is inflation and cost of living. Among white Gen Z voters, Biden’s approval rating is 27 percent compared to 59 percent (!) for Trump; among white Millennials, Biden’s rating is 33 percent while Trump’s is 60 percent.

Hispanic voters. The measured pro-Trump shift here is particularly startling. Biden’s average lead among Hispanics is a mere 5 points, an 18-point decline from his lead in 2020. And in the DCorps presidential battleground data, Biden is actually behind among these voters by 3 points. Battleground Hispanics’ key issue is inflation and the cost of living, followed by crime. They give Trump and Biden exactly equal approval ratings.

Black voters. In the Split Ticket data, Biden is averaging a 52-point lead among black voters. That may sound good but it actually represents a precipitous 29-point drop from Biden’s 81-point lead in 2020. It seems hard to believe that Biden will ultimately drop that much support from black voters but even half that drop would be disastrous for him.

The DCorps presidential battleground data confirm this relatively weak black support for Biden. Interestingly, while inflation and the cost of living is these voters’ top issue, as it is for most other groups, crime is actually very close behind, much closer than among other groups. Consistent with this, black battleground voters are most likely to pick “crime and homelessness being out of control in cities and the violence killing small businesses and the police” as something that would upset them the most if Biden was re-elected.

Women voters. The Split Ticket data show Biden’s average lead among women voters at 6 points, down 7 points from his 2020 showing. This shift is actually slightly larger than the pro-Trump shift among men at this point.

The DCorps presidential battleground data indicate particular problems among white unmarried women (25-point Trump lead) and white working-class (noncollege) women under 50 (47-point Trump lead). These two groups of women are by far the most worried about inflation and the cost of living. Both groups of women give Trump higher approval ratings than Biden. The under 50 white working class women, in fact, give Biden an abysmal 16 percent approval rating compared to 57 percent for Trump.

Working-class voters. The Split Ticket data show Trump averaging solid leads among both high school or less (15 points) and some college (9 points) voters. These leads represent, respectively, a 5-point and a 7.5-point shift toward Trump relative to 2020.

In the DCorps data, Trump has an amazing 21-point lead among the working class as a whole in the battleground states and districts. And that’s 63 percent of the voters in these areas—the areas that, as noted, will decide the outcome in 2024.

Independent and moderate voters. The Split Ticket data show Trump leading Biden by 6 points among independents, a 15-point turnaround from Biden’s 9-point lead in 2020. Biden currently leads by 14 points among moderate voters, which sounds OK, but is actually a 12-point decline from his lead in 2020. And in the DCorps presidential battleground, Trump leads independents by a healthy 18 points.

It no doubt seems odd to Democrats that voters in the center—independents and moderates—aren’t flocking to their banners because surely they all know and believe that chaos agent Trump and his anti-democratic Republican Party represent everything that is immoderate and super-partisan in American politics.

But here’s the problem: these voters don’t necessarily see Trump and the Republicans as clearly being the worst in these areas. In the DCorps poll, battleground voters prefer Trump and the Republicans over Biden and the Democrats on “opposing extremism” (by 3 points), “getting beyond the chaos (by 6 points), “standing up to elites” (by 8 points), “protecting the U.S. Constitution” (by 8 points), and “putting country over party” (by 8 points). These voters see the parties as tied on “democracy being secure”and give Biden and the Democrats negligible leads of 2 points on “presidents not being able to act as autocrats”, and one point on “protecting democracy”. So while partisan Democrats may think these issues are not even close when comparing Biden and the Democrats to Trump and his “semi-fascist” Republican Party, there are clearly huge numbers of less partisan voters who disagree.

Similarly, in a recent Morning Consult poll, voters deemed the Democratic Party more ideologically extreme than the Republicans by 9 points. And in a poll conducted by The Liberal Patriot and YouGov, more voters thought the Democrats had moved too far left on cultural and social issues (61 percent) than thought the Republicans had moved too far right on these issues (58 percent).

Something’s clearly not working here for the Democrats. Despite turning it up to 11 on the threat posed by Trump to democracy throughout Biden’s presidency, and now perhaps to 12 as the probability of a Biden-Trump rematch looms ever larger, actually-existing voters don’t seem to be stampeding in their direction. The big lead that Democrats feel should be naturally theirs is not appearing.

To me, this raises the question: where is the popular front against Trumpism? If he is indeed as bad as most Democrats seem to believe—i.e., we’re one step away from fascism, it’s Weimar Germany 1932 all over again—shouldn’t Democrats be casting the net as wide as possible, compromising on anything and everything to make their party maximally accessible to persuadable voters? After all, we’ve got to stop fascism here!

But that’s not what’s happening. Despite their dire assessment of the threat posed by Trump, moves to compromise on contentious issues that persuadable voters care about are few and far between. Look what’s happening with the immigration issue that has come to the fore in the negotiations over aid to the Ukraine and Israel. Instead of eagerly embracing a deal to move the aid forward that would include fairly modest reforms to the asylum system and other changes to tighten border security, Democrats are evincing the greatest reluctance to make such a deal. And this is despite the reality that voters, including most persuadable voters, view the Democrats as absolutely abysmal on the issue of border security.

It’s hard to understand. And the great irony here is that progressive Democrats, who are precisely the ones who are most hysterical about the threat posed by Trump and Trumpism, are also the ones most adamantly opposed to making any compromise on border security as part of this deal. Or really anything else for that matter.

This is not a recipe for success. I suppose that’s because they don’t really want a popular front against Trumpism but rather a popular front for all the stuff they feel comfortable supporting. But that’s not how a popular front works and it’s certainly not how Democrats are going to rebuild and expand their coalition for 2024. Instead, such a sectarian approach simply enhances the very real possibility that Donald Trump will (gulp) win next November.

Edsall: Biden’s Fraying Coalition in Danger

Some excerpts from Thomas B. Edsall’s  “‘This Is Grim,’ One Democratic Pollster Says” at The New York Times:

The predictive power of horse-race polling a year from the presidential election is weak at best. The Biden campaign can take some comfort in that. But what recent surveys do reveal is that the coalition that put Joe Biden in the White House in the first place is nowhere near as strong as it was four years ago.

These danger signs include fraying support among core constituencies, including young voters, Black voters and Hispanic voters, and the decline, if not the erasure, of traditional Democratic advantages in representing the interests of the middle class and speaking for the average voter.

Any of these on their own might not be cause for alarm, but taken together, they present a dangerous situation for Biden.

Edsall notes further, “From Nov. 5 through Nov. 11, Democracy Corps, a Democratic advisory group founded by Stan Greenberg and James Carville, surveyed 2,500 voters in presidential and Senate battleground states as well as competitive House districts….In an email, Greenberg summarized the results: “This is grim.” The study, he said, found that collectively, voters in the Democratic base of “Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, L.G.B.T.Q.+ community, Gen Z, millennials, unmarried and college women give Trump higher approval ratings than Biden.”

Edsall goes on to roll out the discouraging specifics, including:

On 32 subjects ranging from abortion to China, the Democracy Corps survey asked voters to choose which would be better: “Biden and the Democrats” or “Trump and the Republicans.”

Biden and the Democrats led on six: women’s rights (ahead by 17 percentage points), climate change (15 points), addressing racial inequality (10 points), health care (three points), the president will not be an autocrat (two points) and protecting democracy (one point). There was a tie on making democracy more secure.

Donald Trump and the Republicans held leads on the remaining subjects, including being for working people (a seven-point advantage), standing up to elites (eight points), being able to get things done for the American people (12 points), feeling safe (12 points) and keeping wages and salaries up with the cost of living (17 points).

In the case of issues that traditionally favor Republicans, Trump and his allies held commanding leads: patriotism (11 points), crime (17 points), immigration (20 points) and border security (22 points).

As for the causes, Edsall writes, “There is some evidence in both the Democracy Corps survey and in other polls that concerns specific to Biden — including his age and the surge in prices during his presidency — are driving the perception of Democratic weakness rather than discontent with the party itself…..The survey found, for example, that Democratic candidates in House battleground districts are running even with their Republican opponents among all voters and two points ahead among voters who say they are likely to cast ballots on Election Day.”

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Biden’s sagging popularity is weakening Democratic 2024 prospects. As Edsall notes,

Along similar lines, a November 2023 NBC News poll found Trump leading Biden by two points, 46 to 44, but when voters were asked to choose between Trump and an unnamed Democratic candidate, the generic Democrat won 46 to 40.

In a reflection of both Biden’s and Trump’s high unfavorability ratings, NBC reported that when voters were asked to choose between Biden and an unnamed generic Republican, the Republican candidate led Biden 48 to 37.

What makes these numbers and conclusions harder to ignore than other recent polls indicating trouble for Democrats, is the name Stan Greenberg associated with the Democracy Corps poll and related analyses. While James Carville is familiar to many political junkies because of his frequent television appearances, his political partner Stan Greenberg is the Democrats’ platinum standard pollster, poll and election data analyst. Indeed, they have advised successful social democratic candidates all over the world. Greenberg and Carville steered President Bill Clinton’s two victorious election campaigns, and if Hillary Clinton heeded their advice to focus more on winning the support of  working-classs voters in key states, the nation might have been spared the entire Trump disaster, which now threatens the future of America’s democracy.

It is true that nobody knows what is going to happen in the months ahead, and yes, Biden could rally, if the economic picture improves substantially, or if Trump’s legal problems drag him down. In any case, President Biden, or whoever runs against Trump or another GOP nominee, would do well to pay close attention to the insights of Stan Greenberg and James Carville.

To round out your take on Democratic 2024 prospects, do read the rest of Edsall’s column. It provides as thorough and carefully-considered a report as you are going to find.

Dems, Don’t Forget the GOP’s Other Big Failure – Health Care Policy

Eleanor Clift explains how “Democrats Can Win if They Make the 2024 Election About Healthcare: Ron DeSantis updated the GOP’s “repeal and replace” Obamacare mantra to “replace and supersede,” and Trump wants to “terminate” it. But voters like the Affordable Care Act” at The Daily Beast:

Of all the issues before voters, healthcare remains the holy grail for Democrats.

In the last three election cycles, it delivered Democratic victories based on deeply held beliefs about which party could be trusted to reform a system that had left millions without health care and millions more bankrupt with medical debt.

The Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010 (and more commonly known as Obamacare), is far from perfect, but it allowed people with pre-existing conditions to get health insurance, it removed unrealistic caps on medical care, and it allowed young people to remain on their parents’ insurance policy until the age of 26.

It was revolutionary, and more than a decade of Republican calls to “repeal and replace” proved futile. The GOP might have learned its lesson, but Donald Trump, who never tires of his old fixations, says on social media he would like to “terminate” Obamacare and “replace it with something much better.”

Clift adds that “it is music to Democrats whenever Republicans start mucking around in health care. Forty million Americans now have health insurance thanks to Obamacare, an ace card that Democrats hold going into the 2024 election where health care could once again play a decisive role in the outcome.” Also,

“It’s the most powerful kitchen table issue there is,” says Leslie Dach, executive chair of Protect Our Care, a health advocacy group, and senior advisor to the Congressional Integrity Project, a pro-Biden rapid response group. “Politically, it’s a loser for them (GOP) because it’s a totally non-partisan issue. The only place it’s partisan is in Washington, D.C. Everybody in America worries about getting sick, and how they’re going to pay for it, and they’re trying to make it an ideological issue.”

In addition, Clift writes, “It will be 14 years in March since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Most Republicans are ready to put the issue in the rearview mirror, recognizing the futility of repeal and replace, as well as the complexity of the healthcare market in a bitterly partisan political climate….Nikki Haley’s home state of South Carolina and DeSantis’ Florida are two of 10 remaining states that have blocked Medicaid expansion, withholding health care coverage from hundreds of thousands of people.”

Clift concludes, “Any time Trump or DeSantis want to vent about Obamacare, they sharpen the contrast between the party that delivered health care for millions of people and the party that would take it away under the false illusion that they’ve got a secret plan to make it better.”

Sure, Democrats should frame the Republicans’ cluelessness on abortion rights for maximum advantage. But don’t forget their failure to propose a single credible health care reform.

Dionne: Time to face Democracy’s Twin Threats

In “Democracy faces two threats. Trump is only one of them,” Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes:

Over the next year, the survival of democracy should be the central issue in American politics. To insist on this is to be a realist, not an alarmist. But making that case requires identifying two distinct threats.

The first is Donald Trump, who is already at the center of our national conversation. The second is the ongoing assault on voting rights, which rarely commands the airwaves.

Let’s start with the good news: It has become untenable to treat Trump as a normal presidential candidate, thanks to his own evermore radical rhetoric, starting with his pledges to use the Justice Department as a tool for revenge against political enemies. The result is a partial but welcome shift in journalistic coverage recognizing Trump’s journey into what the New York Times called “more fascist-sounding territory.” The Economist, no avatar of left-wing politics, received wide attention for declaring that Trump “poses the biggest danger to the world in 2024.”
However, Dionne writes, “We are paying far less attention to the long-term deterioration of the right to vote, the essential building block of a democratic republic. It’s easier to overlook because chipping away at access to the ballot has been a subtle, decade-long process. It began with the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision that gutted Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, thus sharply circumscribing the Justice Department’s power to enforce the law.” Further,
This led to an explosion of state abuses, including discriminatory voter-identification laws, targeted purges of electoral rolls, gerrymanders that undercut minority representation and changes in early-voting rules that often advantaged some groups over others.
Because such moves fall short of the wholesale disenfranchisement of Black voters during the Jim Crow era — it ended with the Voting Rights Act’s passage in 1965 — defenders of today’s restrictions insist they are not discriminating against anyone. But making it harder for some people to vote — often in the name of preventing the falsely imagined “voter fraud” that is at the heart of Trump’s election denial — is no less an attack on democracy.

Also, “In his decision in Shelby, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. claimed that even without a strong Section 4, the Voting Rights Act bans discrimination under Section 2, which “is permanent, applies nationwide, and is not at issue in this case.” In addition,

Permanent? Not if the 2-1 decision last week from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit is allowed to stand….The court’s majority arrogantly tossed aside what Congress explicitly said it was doing when it passed the law, claiming miraculous powers to read the “text and structure” of the act as preventing private parties, including civil rights groups, from bringing cases under Section 2. As the Atlantic’s Adam Serwer noted, the ruling’s claim that only the Justice Department had this authority ignored “Congress’s intentions, Supreme Court precedent and decades of practice.”

This is no minor bit of judicial activism. Rick Hasen, a law professor at UCLA, wrote in the Election Law Blog that the ruling would eliminate the bulk of the cases aimed at protecting voting rights because “the vast majority of claims to enforce section 2 of the Voting Rights Act are brought by private plaintiffs, not the Department of Justice with limited resources.” Bye bye, Voting Rights Act. Indeed, there were immediate signs (in a key Louisiana case, for example) that the 8th Circuit ruling would be used to overturn earlier voting rights actions.

“Preventing Trump from overthrowing liberal democracy is certainly a necessary step,” Dionne argues, “but it’s not sufficient. Renewing the fight for a new Voting Rights Act and the access-enhancing reforms in the Freedom to Vote Act is essential. But it’s also time to address one of the major flaws of our Constitution: It does not contain an explicit, affirmative guarantee of every citizen’s right to vote. Enacting a constitutional amendment that would do so, Hasen argues, would bring our voting wars to an inclusive conclusion.
“Why do we let the state put barriers in front of people when they exercise their right to vote?” Hasen asked in an interview. The director of UCLA’s Safeguarding Democracy Project, Hasen details his proposed amendment and the case for it in a forthcoming book, “A Real Right to Vote.” A carefully framed amendment, he argues, could simultaneously protect voter access and assure election integrity. He’d link automatic voter registration with a nationwide, universal, nondiscriminatory form of voter identification.

Dionne concludes, “Polarization makes amending the Constitution nearly impossible these days, one reason Hasen addresses fears on both the left and the right. But whatever chances Hasen’s amendment has, it calls on Americans to address the most important question facing our democracy: Are we truly committed to being a democracy? We’ll decide that at the ballot box next November, but we’ll have a lot more work to do even if we get the initial answer right.”

Brownstein: How Biden Might Recover

In “How Biden Might Recover” at The Atlantic,  Ronald Brownstein writes: “If the GOP renominates Trump, attitudes about the challenger might overshadow views about the incumbent to an unprecedented extent, the veteran GOP pollster Bill McInturff believes. McInturff told me that in his firm’s polling over the years, most voters usually say that when a president seeks reelection, their view about the incumbent is what most influences their decision about whom to support.

Brownstein notes further, “But in a recent national survey McInturff’s firm conducted with a Democratic partner for NBC, nearly three-fifths of voters said that their most important consideration in a Trump-Biden rematch would be their views of the former president….“I have never seen a number like this NBC result between an incumbent and ‘challenger,’” McInturff told me in an email. “If 2024 is a Biden versus Trump campaign, we are in uncharted waters.”

In addition, “Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political scientist, said the principal reason presidents now appear more capable of surviving discontent about their performance is the rise of negative partisanship. That’s the phrase he and other political scientists use to describe a political environment in which many voters are motivated primarily by their belief that the other party represents an unacceptable threat to their values and vision of America. “Emphasizing the negative results of electing your opponent has become a way of unifying your party,” Abramowitz told me.”

However, “Jim Messina, the campaign manager for Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection, reflected the changing thinking when he told me he does not believe that Biden needs to reach majority approval to win another term. “I don’t think it’s a requirement,” Messina said. “It might be if we are dealing with an open race with two nonpresidents. People forget that they are both incumbents. Neither one of them is going to get to 50 percent in approval. What you are trying to drive is the choice.”….

Another consideration Browstein points out, “Trump has already laid out a much more militantly conservative and overtly authoritarian agenda than he ran on in 2016 or 2020. His proposals include the mass deportation of and internment camps for undocumented immigrants, gutting the civil service, invoking the Insurrection Act to quash public protests, and openly deploying the Justice Department against his political enemies. If Trump is the GOP nominee, Democratic advertising will ensure that voters in the decisive swing states are much more aware of his agenda and often-venomous rhetoric than they are today. (The Biden campaign has started issuing near-daily press releases calling out Trump’s most extreme proposals.).”

However, “In a recent national poll by Marquette University Law School, nearly twice as many voters said they trusted Trump rather than Biden to handle both the economy and immigration. The Democratic pollster Stanley B. Greenberg released a survey last week of the nine most competitive presidential states, in which even the Democratic “base of Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, LGBTQ+ community, Gen Z, millennials, unmarried and college women give Trump higher approval ratings than Biden.” Among all voters in those crucial states, the share that said they thought Trump did a good job as president was nearly 10 percentage points higher than the group that gives Biden good grades now.

“The problem for Trump’s team,” Brownstein adds, “is that he constantly pushes the boundaries of what the public might accept. Holding his strong current level of support in polls among Hispanics, for instance, may become much more difficult for Trump after Democrats spend more advertising dollars highlighting his plans to establish internment camps for undocumented immigrants, his refusal to rule out reprising his policy of separating migrant children from their parents, and his threats to use military force inside Mexico. Trump’s coming trials on 91 separate criminal charges will test the public’s tolerance in other ways: Even a recent New York Times/Siena College poll showing Trump leading Biden in most of the key swing states found that the results could flip if the former president is convicted.”

Brownstein concludes, “rump presents opponents with an almost endless list of vulnerabilities. But Biden’s own vulnerabilities have lifted Trump to a stronger position in recent polls than he achieved at any point in the 2020 race. These polls aren’t prophecies of how voters will make their decisions next November if they are forced to choose again between Biden and Trump. But they are a measure of how much difficult work Biden has ahead to win either a referendum or a choice against the man he ousted four years ago.”

Halpin: Legacy Media and Political Polarization

The following article by John Halpin, president and executive editor of The Liberal Patriot. is cross-posted from The Liberal Patriot: 

People often finger social media as the primary culprit in America’s increasingly bitter and divided politics. As the argument goes, corporate tech algorithms and consumer choices are forcing people into closed-looped information circuits full of misinformation, political self-righteousness, and acrimony toward others.

If you happen to spend any time on these social media platforms, you might agree with this assessment. However, the empirical question remains: Are the users of social media any more partisan or ideological than consumers of other types of media?

Looking at data from the recent TLP/YouGov polling of 3098 registered voters conducted in September 2023, the answer is not as simple as conventional wisdom dictates. It turns out, consumers of traditional media—mainly cable news, network television, radio, and national newspapers—exhibit far greater partisan imbalances than do consumers of the biggest social media platforms.

For context, the survey asked respondents, “In the past week, did you get any news from any of the following sources?” and allowed people to make multiple selections.

As the chart below shows, local television remains the most used media source for news information chosen by 41 percent of voters overall. News websites and apps come in second at 33 percent followed by a cluster of different sources including Fox News (28 percent), Facebook (28 percent), CNN (27 percent), and YouTube (26 percent). Notably, national print newspapers were selected by only 9 percent of voters—almost equal to those Americans getting news from the social media video platform, TikTok, at 10 percent. Seven percent of voters overall report not getting news from any of these sources.

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Looking at the crosstabs on media usage, the overlap in news consumption is interesting. For example, 54 percent of those who tune into CNN also get news from local television, and 40 percent get news from Facebook. Likewise, 53 percent of those who tune into Fox get news from local television, and 37 percent get news from Facebook. On the social media side, 52 percent of TikTok news consumers also turn to CNN for news, 54 percent watch YouTube, and 59 percent get news on Facebook.

To gauge the partisan leanings of different consumers, I examined the breakdown of media consumers on President Biden’s job approval, which stood at 45 percent approve and 53 percent disapprove among all voters in September. (Job approval and disapproval seems like a more representative measure of political beliefs than the national horserace at this stage, but the patterns are broadly matched in terms of Biden or Trump support.)

As the table below highlights, legacy media users emerge as the most skewed American consumers of media in terms of their approval or disapproval of President Biden—particularly cable news viewers.

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For example, among those who get news from CNN and MSNBC, Biden’s job approval is an impressive 72 and 78 percent, respectively—more than 25 points higher than his approval ratings nationally. Conversely, only one quarter or less of those who get their news from Fox, One America News Network, and Newsmax approve of the job Biden is going as president, around 20 points lower than the national average. Consumers of national newspapers and national network news also exhibit much higher approval of President Biden than voters nationally, and when compared to consumers of local newspapers or local television. On the flip side, radio news consumers exhibit higher than average disapproval of Biden.

In contrast, users of an array of social media platforms—including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and other social media (including LinkedIn and Instagram) appear more evenly split in their evaluations of the president. Among voters who get news from either Facebook or YouTube, an equal 49 percent approve and disapprove of Biden. And although both Twitter and TikTok users overall emerge slightly more pro-Biden than the national average, their approval or disapproval is much less pronounced than that among cable news viewers.

This is just one poll, of course. But these results cut against the grain of most commentary on America’s political divides.

If analysts are looking for the information roots of America’s most intense political polarization, they might want to examine the consumer bases and news content of legacy media sources as much as they scrutinize social media platforms.

The viewers of different cable news channels, and readers of national newspapers or listeners of radio, constitute vastly different (and more one-sided) partisan worlds than most people on social media platforms with a cacophony of voices and partisan inclinations.

Social media often gets dinged for partisan self-selection and ideological reinforcement, which certainly goes on to some extent, but these data show that the sharpest partisans splits are more prominently found among consumers of traditional cable, print, network news, and radio sources.

Teixeira: The Eerie Complacency of the Democrats

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, politics editor of The Liberal Patriot newsletter and co-author with John B. Judis of the new Book “Where Have All the Democrats Gone?,” is cross-posted from The Liberal Patriot:

The Democrats had a good election on November 7. While there were not a lot of big races this year, Democrats did hold the governorship in the deep red state of Kentucky, flipped the House of Delegates in Virginia, and easily passed a referendum in Ohio enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution. Moreover, this year Democrats have been cleaning up in special elections, consistently doing better than expected given the partisan lean of the areas contested. In the more consequential 2022 elections, Democrats defied expectations keeping down their losses in the House, gaining a seat in the Senate, netting two governorships and making progress in state legislatures. And of course, Democrats did win the biggest election of them all, the presidency, the last time it was held in 2020.

This has led to a certain amount of self-congratulatory behavior among Democratic partisans. The basic take is that in the wake of the Dobbs decisions Democrats have the political equivalent of a nuclear weapon on their side, abortion rights. That adds to a deep arsenal of potential attacks based around voter distaste for Trump/MAGA/election denial/threats to democracy and for a shambolic Republican Party that appears incapable of governing. With these weapons at Democrats’ disposal, they feel they have a decisive advantage moving into the 2024 election. It is simply a matter of pressing that advantage and hitting the Republicans as hard as they can.

In short, as the catechism goes, they’ve got the formula down for defeating the GOP. There is no need to tinker with the formula; stout hearts and merciless execution will win the day. The future for the Democrats and their brand is bright.

And yet…there are so many signs of underlying weakness that undercut this happy story. It was not so long ago after all that Bad Orange Man actually won the presidency in 2016. Have the Democrats really discovered the secret to withstanding further populist surges from the right? Here are three reasons to doubt that and question the Democrats’ current stand-pat complacency.

1. Despite recent results, the actual governing situation is a stalemate. Democrats had their trifecta (presidency, House, Senate) for exactly one term, losing the House in 2022. The last time they had a trifecta was with Obama’s election in 2008. That too vanished after one term, with the 2010 wipeout in the House. But an important difference between then and now is that Obama briefly had a cloture-proof majority in the Senate that included Senators from many states where Democrats have become uncompetitive: Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Despite some gains elsewhere, so many states are now out of competition for the Democrats that their path to 60 seats appears completely closed off. In addition, next election the Senate map is so unfavorable that Democrats are very likely to lose their current razor-thin majority. They are already essentially down one seat, with the retirement of West Virginia’s Joe Manchin.

Elsewhere, notwithstanding good Democratic election results since 2020, Republicans still have more governors, control more state legislatures, and have more state government trifectas (governor, state house, state senate) than the Democrats. Not exactly Democratic dominance.

This raises an important question: if the Trump-ified Republican Party is so awful, so beyond the pale, such a danger to democracy and all that is right and decent—why can’t the Democrats beat this mess of a party decisively? Why are they still playing at the 50-yard line of American politics against this version of the GOP with all its many vulnerabilities and the millstone of Donald Trump around its neck? The simplest explanation is that the Democrats themselves are so unattractive to so many voters in so many places that they cannot break the stalemate. This simple truth is the most difficult thing for Democrats to accept since it implies the need for change rather than more aggressive messaging.

2. The polls are bad—really bad. With the cheerful results from November 7, Democrats are reviving the hoary admonition “the only poll that counts is the one on election day”. True as far as it goes but there’s no gainsaying how poor these polls are for Democratic prospects. They tell us that voters, right now, are uninclined to re-elect Biden. He not only is losing to Trump on the national level but, critically, in the swing states that will determine the next presidential winner he is running behind in enough of them to lose the Electoral College.

  • In the New York Times/Siena poll, Trump is ahead in five states—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania—of the six covered by the survey.
  • In the Morning Consult/Bloomberg poll, Trump is ahead in six states—Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—of the seven covered.
  • In the Stack Data Strategy study, which combines survey data with statistical analysis, Trump leads in four states—Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—carried by Biden in 2020 and trails in none of the states he carried in that election.

Not good! The Times/Siena poll releases detailed crosstabs that allow for an examination of just where Biden is falling short. One key area is Biden’s continuing weakness among nonwhite working-class (noncollege) voters. Confirming a pattern I have previously noted, Biden leads Trump by a mere 16 points among this demographic in the six swing states covered by the poll. This compares to his (national) lead over Trump of 48 points in 2020. And even that lead was a big drop-off from Obama’s 67-point advantage in 2012.

Teixeira and Judis: Where Have All the Democrats Gone?

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, politics editor of The Liberal Patriot newsletter and John B. Judis, a former editor of The New Republic and author of major works about contemporary politics, is cross-posted from The Liberal Patriot. It is adapted from their recently published book, Where Have All the Democrats Gone?: The Soul of the Party in an Age of Extremes:

The Democratic Party has had its greatest success when it sought to represent the common man and woman against the rich and powerful, the people against the elite, and the plebeians against the patricians. Over the last thirty years, the Democrats have continued to claim to represent the average citizen. In his 1992 campaign, Bill Clinton championed “the forgotten middle class” and promised to “put people first.” Barack Obama pledged that the “voices of ordinary citizens” would “speak louder” than “multimillion-dollar donations.” Hillary Clinton in her 2016 campaign promised to “make the economy work for everyday Americans.” And Joe Biden promised in 2020 to represent “the people” and framed the election as being between “Park Avenue and Scranton.”

For all this, over the last decades, Democrats have steadily lost the allegiance of “everyday Americans”—the working- and middle-class voters that were at the core of the older New Deal coalition. Initially, most of these lost voters were white, but in the last elections, Democrats have also begun to lose support among Latino and Asian working-class voters.

How did this happen? There is an original reason, for which the Democrats were hardly to blame. Democrats were the principal supporters of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965—measures that went a long way toward ending racial segregation and Jim Crow, but that angered many southern whites and, to a lesser extent, some whites in the North.

With the exception of a few far-right groups, however, Americans have reconciled themselves to those bills. Democrats regularly win elections in Virginia, the seat of the southern Confederacy, and many of the northern and southern suburbs formed by white flight now vote for Democratic candidates. And Americans elected an African American president in 2008 and reelected him in 2012.

Today, there are a multitude of factors that have driven working-class voters out of the Democratic Party. They include:

  • Democrats’ support for trade deals that led to factory closings in many small towns and midsize cities in states that were once Democratic strongholds.
  • Democrats’ support for spending bills that the working and middle classes paid for but that were primarily of benefit to poor Americans, many of whom were minorities.
  • Democrats’ enthusiasm for immigration of unskilled workers and the party’s opposition to measures that might reduce illegal immigration.
  • Democrats’ support for strict gun control.
  • Democrats’ insistence on eliminating fossil fuels.
  • Democrats’ use of the courts and regulations to enforce their moral and cultural agenda, whether on the sale of wedding cakes or the use of public men’s and women’s bathrooms.

Not all Democrats are in line with these actions or beliefs. But overall, they came to characterize the party. Some of these stances have to do directly with economics; others with culture. The differences over them are often taken to distinguish the college-educated professional from those who do not have college degrees, but they equally, if not more accurately, arise from the differences in economic geography—what we call the “Great Divide” in American politics.

On one side of the divide are the great postindustrial metro centers like the Bay Area, Atlanta, Austin, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York, and Seattle. These are areas that benefited from the boom in computer technology and high finance. These areas are heavily populated by college-educated professionals, but also by low-skilled immigrants who clean the buildings, mow the lawns, and take care of the children and the aged. The professionals, who set the political agenda for these areas, welcome legal and illegal immigrants; they want guns off the street; they see trade not as a threat to jobs but as a source of less expensive goods; they worry that climate change will destroy the planet; and, among the young, they are engaged in a quest for new identities and sexual lifestyles. A majority of them are Democrats.

On the other side of the divide are the small towns and midsize cities that have depended on manufacturing, mining, and farming. Some of these places have prospered from newly discovered oil and gas deposits, but many are towns and cities like Muncie, Indiana; Mansfield, Ohio; and Dundalk, Maryland that have lost jobs when firms moved abroad or closed up shop in the face of foreign competition. The workers and small businesspeople in these towns and cities want the border closed to illegal immigrants, whom they see as a burden to their taxes and a threat to their jobs; they want to keep their guns as a way to protect their homes and family; they fly the American flag in front of their house; they go to or went to church; they oppose abortion; some may be leery of gay marriage, although that is changing; many of them or members of their family served in the military; they have no idea what most of the initials in LGBTQIA+ stand for. A majority of them are now Republicans and many are former working-class Democrats.

Teixeira: The Progressive Left Is a Paper Tiger – Time to call their bluff

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, politics editor of The Liberal Patriot newsletter and co-author with John B. Judis of the forthcoming book “Where Have All the Democrats Gone?,” is cross-posted from The Liberal Patriot:

Large segments of the progressive left disgraced themselves by indulging in demonstrations and statements that, directly or indirectly, excused Hamas’s terrorist massacre. For that, they were rightly condemned across the political spectrum, including by many Democrats. But the progressive left has not given up on pushing their “decolonialist” perspective within the Democratic Party, demanding that Biden soften his support for Israel and calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in the conflict. This policy recommendation is backed up what is essentially a threat: if Democrats don’t move in the direction recommended by the progressive left, “their” voters, especially young voters, will fail to be “energized” in 2024, endangering Biden’s re-election and Democratic electoral prospects generally.

But is that really true? Leaving aside the question of whether that would be a responsible use of their power (I don’t think so), do they even have that kind of power? I doubt it. In fact, I think the progressive left is more of a paper tiger, claiming power and influence way above what they actually have.

Start with the fundamental fact that the progressive or intersectional left, for whom issues from ending fossil fuels to open borders to decriminalizing and decolonizing everything (free Palestine!) are inseparably linked moral commitments, is actually a pretty small slice of voters—six percent in the Pew typology, eight percent in the More in Common typology. So we should ask whether and to what extent their commitments are reflected in the views of the voter groups in whose name they claim to speak.

Probably the most important of these is young voters, lately lionized as Democrats’ best hope—but also perhaps their downfall, if not appropriately catered to. And it is true that young voters generally lean more left than older voters, including in expressing more sympathy for the Palestinians and more opposition to sending weapons to Israel. But that does not mean young voters’ views are therefore in sync with those of the intersectional left and likely to take their cues from activists’ fury at the Biden administration. Consider these results from a very recent poll by Slingshot Strategies on the Israel-Gaza conflict.

  1. Respondents were asked who they blame for the current violence in Israel and Gaza. Among the 18-44 year old age group, which covers the entire Millennial generation and eligible members of Gen Z, just 19 percent blame Israel for oppressing the Palestinians, less than half the 44 percent who blame Hamas for committing acts of terrorism against Israel (36 percent had no opinion).
  2. Respondents were also asked what they think about the level of support Biden is showing for Israel. Less than one third (31 percent) of 18-44 year olds think Biden has been showing too much support for Israel, compared to 69 percent who believe he is either showing the right amount (42 percent) or not enough (27 percent) support for Israel.
  3. Similarly, only a third of this age group prefers that the U.S. work to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, less than the 36 percent who would prefer that the U.S. support Israel’s attempt to eliminate Hamas’s military capabilities.

The disjuncture between these views and those of progressive activists is striking. Far from speaking for the younger generations, it would appear the intersectional left is, as usual, speaking for itself.

This disjuncture can be seen on many other issues. One such is how to tackle the problem of climate change. The progressive left is in a state of perpetual outrage that the country is not moving faster to get rid of fossil fuels and transition to renewable (e.g., wind and solar) energy, the alleged solution to the problem. This too is supposed to be an issue where the Biden administration is out of sync with younger voters, who therefore will fail to be energized by his re-election bid.

But, again, is this true? In a recent 6,000 person survey by the American Enterprise Institute’s Survey Center on American Life (SCAL) respondents were asked about their preferences for the country’s energy supply. By 64 percent to 36 percent, Millennial/Gen Z (18-44 year old) voters favored “Use a mix of energy sources including oil, coal and natural gas along with renewable energy sources” over “Phase out the use of oil, coal and natural gas completely, relying instead on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power only.” This does not seem consistent with the mantra of progressive left activists.

Similarly, in a recent 3,000 voter survey conducted by YouGov for The Liberal Patriot, the following choices were offered to voters about energy strategy:

  • We need a rapid green transition to end the use of fossil fuels and replace them with fully renewable energy sources;
  • We need an “all-of-the above” strategy that provides abundant and cheap energy from multiple sources including oil and gas to renewables to advanced nuclear power; or
  • We need to stop the push to replace domestic oil and gas production with unproven green energy projects that raise costs and undercut jobs.

Among the same Millennial/Gen Z (18-44 year old) voters, the progressive left-preferred first position, emphasizing ending the use of fossil fuels and rapidly adopting renewables, is a distinctly minoritarian one, embraced by just 36 percent of these voters. The most popular position is the second, all-of-the above approach that emphasizes energy abundance and the use of fossil fuels and renewables and nuclear, favored by 48 percent of Millennial/Gen Z voters. Another 16 percent flat-out support production of fossil fuels and oppose green energy projects. Together that’s 64 percent of these voters who are not singing from the progressive left hymnbook.

So the progressive left’s claim that failing to embrace their positions is the death-knell for Democrats among younger generation voters is highly suspect. Of course it’s entirely in their interest to claim that only a bracing tonic of progressive left positions can jolt these voters out of their torpor. But there isn’t much behind this claim; in reality, the intersectional left and the groups and politicians in +25D Democratic districts that support it are paper tigers. Their power derives more from their ability to scare the rest of the party than from their power over actual voters.

Democrats would be well-advised to worry less about the progressive left’s complaints and more about the uncomfortable possibility that the voters who surge into the voting pool in 2024—those who sat out 2022 but may return in 2024—will present a serious persuasion challenge to their party. Gone are the days when higher turnout necessarily bodes well for Democratic fortunes. As Nate Cohn noted in a recent article:

Mr. Biden’s pronounced weakness among less engaged voters is, at least momentarily, disrupting the usual patterns. It has at least temporarily weakened or even reversed the typical Democratic advantage from higher turnout. It has hurt Mr. Biden in national polling of registered voters and all adults, as low-turnout young and nonwhite voters make up a far larger share of eligible voters than the actual electorate.

Even more sobering, consider some findings specifically about Hispanics, the group driving the growth of the nonwhite population and much of Democrats’ hopes for the future. It turns out that Hispanic voters who did not show up in 2022 but did vote in 2020 are much more Republican leaning than 2022 Hispanic voters. According to a study by Equis Research of the Hispanic electorate, Hispanics who were drawn into the 2020 Presidential election but have been skipping congressional elections favor a generic Republican Presidential candidate over Biden by 20 points. Hispanic men under 40 in this group are even more pro-GOP, favoring a generic Republican by well over 30 points.

Now that’s a challenge. Instead of worrying about placating the progressive left, Democrats should be scheming about how they can persuade these peripheral voters that the Democrats are better for them than the Republicans. Otherwise, they may “energize” themselves right into a 2024 election loss.

Ohio Vote to Test Political Salience of Abortion Rights

From “An Ohio amendment serves as a testing ground for statewide abortion fights expected in 2024″ by A. P.’s Julie Carr Smyth and Christine Fernando at The Hill:

Abortion access is expected to play a central role in the 2024 elections. The preview comes next week, when Ohio voters decide whether to enshrine reproductive rights in their state Constitution.

The amendment is the only abortion question on any state’s ballot this year, a spotlight that has generated intense attention from national groups and made Ohio a testing ground for fresh campaign messaging — some of it misleading. The amendment has drawn more than $60 million in combined spending so far.

Mini Timmaraju, president and CEO of Reproductive Freedom for All, said Ohio offers a vital proving ground heading into next year’s presidential election, when Democrats hope the abortion issue can energize supporters in contests up and down the ballot. Initiatives seeking to protect access could be on the ballot across the country, including in the presidential swing states of Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

“When we’re able to see how our messaging impacts independents and Republicans and persuades them that this fundamental freedom is important to protect in Ohio, that’s going to be something that we can implement looking at 2024,” she said.

The battleground on abortion shifted to the states last summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its Roe v. Wade decision, erasing federal abortion protections that had been in place for half a century. Since then, voters in six states — California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont — have either supported measures protecting abortion rights or rejected efforts aimed at eroding access.

Smyth and Fernando note that “The Ohio amendment would guarantee an individual’s right “to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions.” It expressly permits the state to regulate abortions after fetal viability, as determined by an attending physician, as long as any laws regulating the procedure after that point provide exceptions for the life and health of the woman.”

Further, “Its supporters include Democrats in the state, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and a bipartisan coalition of labor, faith and community groups. They portray the measure — one of the most broadly worded so far — as a way to enshrine Roe-era abortion rights in a one-time bellwether state that has turned increasingly Republican and has passed some of the nation’s toughest restrictions on the procedure….AP VoteCast polling last year found that 59% of Ohio voters say abortion should generally be legal.”

“Turnout in the election that concludes Tuesday is expected to be robust,” Smyth and Fernando write, “building on the enthusiasm from the summer, organizers say. Local election officials anticipate 40% to 50% of registered voters will participate, according to the Ohio Association of Election Officials. That’s higher than a typical off-year November election and up from the 39% turnout in August.”