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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Teixeira: How Can the Biden Administration Deliver Good Jobs?

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

Perhaps It Takes a European Observer To See the Democrats’ Fundamental Political-Economic Problem Clearly

Jean Pisani-Ferry is at the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel. In an article on Project Syndicate he observes:

“The Biden administration’s promises to “think big” and rebuild the country seem like a major historical departure from decades of policy orthodoxy. And yet, insofar as its agenda will merely help the United States catch up to other advanced economies, its main components amount to necessary but insufficient reforms.”

He focuses particularly on the Democrats’ fundamental political problem and links it to the difficulties of the left in other advanced countries:

“[S]uch reforms are unlikely to suffice to address the Democrats’ political problem. Their challenge is that white voters without a college degree – who formed the backbone of Trump’s support – still make up 41% of the electorate. Even assuming that new voting laws in many Republican-led states do not overly suppress black turnout, the Democratic coalition of black voters and educated elites remains at the mercy of a shift in public sentiment, leaving the party without a strong enough majority in the right places to guarantee victory in the Electoral College in 2024.

The Democrats’ imperative is to recapture the white working-class voters who backed Trump in 2016 and 2020. But since Bill Clinton’s presidency in the 1990s, the party has offered left-behind workers only two solutions: education and social benefits. As The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein recounts, Clinton’s mantra was that, “What you learn is what you earn.” He and Barack Obama strongly believed that more and better education was the best way to deal with the labor-market upheavals brought about by digitalization and globalization. (Europeans mostly shared this philosophy, though they placed a greater emphasis on social transfers.)

But workers do not agree. They do not want to live on welfare, but nor do they want to be sent back to school. Rather, they want to keep the good jobs that have long provided them with incomes and a sense of pride. Trump won in 2016 because he understood this sentiment and exploited it to win the working-class vote in key swing states.

And it’s not just America. Everywhere one looks, the left has lost the working-class vote. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has conquered Labour’s “Red Wall”; in France, far-right leader Marine Le Pen has emerged as the candidate of choice for a growing share of workers; and in Germany, the Social Democrats seem likely to be crushed in the September elections. As Amory Gethin, Clara Martínez-Toledano, and Thomas Piketty show in a fascinating comparative paper, the traditional cleavages that structured postwar politics have collapsed across Western democracies.

Biden clearly understands this political shift. Last month, in his first address to a joint session of Congress, he made a point of noting that nearly 90% of the jobs created by his infrastructure plan will not require a college degree. But how can his administration actually deliver good jobs?”

That’s the question. And it’s not at all clear the Biden administration has a good answer to this and, therefore, to its fundamental political problem.

Should Democratic Messaging Toughen Up for the Midterms?

At Gallup, Jeffrey M. Jones reports, “In Gallup polling throughout the first quarter of 2021, an average of 49% of U.S. adults identified with the Democratic Party or said they are independents who lean toward the Democratic Party. That compares with 40% who identified as Republicans or Republican leaners. The nine-percentage-point Democratic advantage is the largest Gallup has measured since the fourth quarter of 2012. In recent years, Democratic advantages have typically been between four and six percentage points.” Further,

Gallup routinely measures U.S. adults’ party identification and the political leanings of independents. In the first quarter, 30% of Americans identified as Democrats and 19% were Democratic-leaning independents, while 25% were Republican identifiers and 15% Republican-leaning independents. The vast majority of the remaining 11% were independents with no partisan leanings.

The latest figures were measured as President Joe Biden was inaugurated despite rioters’ attempts on Jan. 6 to disrupt the certification of his victory in the 2020 election. The first quarter also saw a steady decline in U.S. coronavirus deaths and infections from its early January peak, a great expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations, and the passage of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Jones notes that Democrats have enjoyed an even larger advantage during the Bush II and Clinton presidencies. Jones adds that “The 44% of Americans who identify as political independents, whether they subsequently express a party leaning or not, is up from 38% in the fourth quarter of 2020 and is above 40% for the first time since 2019.”

In light of the Democratic edge in party identification, Republicans did very well in U.S. House elections, as well as state legislatures. A new study “Way to Win” found that “Republicans spent a lot more money on casting Democrats as extremists than Democrats did in making the case against Republican extremism, as Greg Sargent reports. “Republicans spent more than 10 times more on ads with the words “extremist” and “radical” than Democrats did. Republicans spent $51 million on such ads, while Democrats spent $3.4 million….Overall, Republicans spent more than $87 million on ads with one or more of the following words in it: “AOC,” “Ocasio,” “Pelosi,” “socialism,” “socialist,” “defund,” “radical,” “extremist,” “extreme.”….GOP ads were more likely to use words with “emotional punch,” such as “taxes,” “radical” and “jobs,” while Democratic ads featured words like “insurance,” “voted” and “work.”

Talking up bipartisanship may have served Democrats well in electing Biden, and possibly Biden’s coattails helped Democratic senate candidates Ossoff and Warnock in GA. But the softer tone may be a liability for Dems in 2022 House and Senate races.

In his article “GOP Image Slides Giving Democrats Strong Advantage” back in February, Jones reported on an earlier Gallup poll and observed that “The tumultuous end to the Trump presidency appears to have harmed the image of the Republican Party. The GOP now faces a double-digit deficit in favorable ratings compared with the Democratic Party.”

Clearly, Democrats are on the right track in pressing the case for a thorough investigation of the January 6th riot, which Trump encouraged and all but a few Republican leaders refuse to condemn. Democrats have a wealth of video showing Trump supporters committing violence, destroying taxpayer-owned property, and leveraging it to remind midterm voters about the GOP’s grotesque hypocrisy regarding law, the Constitution and democracy should give Dems a big edge in branding their adversries.

Brownstein: Asian American Voters Could Be Key for Dems in Upcoming Elections

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein explains why the Asian American vote could be pivotal for Democratic victories in the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential elections:

Even amid soaring participation from all major racial groups, Asian Americans increased their turnout by more than any other cohort, according to recently released studies by the Census Bureau and Catalist, a Democratic voter-targeting firm. In fact, no major demographic group in recent decades has increased its turnout from one election to the next as much as Asian Americans did from 2016 to 2020, the census found; not even Black voters grew that much from 2004 through to Barack Obama’s first election four years later.

Why the surge? It reflected both long-term investments from grassroots groups in organizing and the immediate threat that many Asian Americans felt from former President Donald Trump—including his policies to slash legal immigration and his racist labeling of the coronavirus as the “China virus” and even “kung flu.” Although Republicans retain pockets of strength in Asian communities, the party now faces the prospect that Trump’s words—and the link many experts see between them and the rising wave of anti-Asian hate crimes—could lastingly alienate many of the thousands of Asian Americans who voted for the first time last year.

“It’s become a defining moment for the Asian American community,” says Karthick Ramakrishnan, a political scientist at UC Riverside who studies Asian American political influence. “What you saw in 2020 was a forging of political consciousness among the younger generation that could carry [Democrats] through for years, if not decades, to come.”

Brownstein notes that “Asian Americans still represent a small sliver of the population in all but a few states. But census figures show that from 2010 to 2019, the group grew rapidly, increasing its population nationwide by nearly 30 percent, or just over 5 million people. In percentage terms, that was by far the biggest increase over the past decade for any major racial group. Among adult citizens eligible to vote, Asian Americans have doubled their share, from 2.5 percent in 2000 to 5 percent in 2020, according to calculations by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.”

And Asian American voters are showing some clout in unexpected places:

The states with the largest populations of eligible Asian American and Pacific Islander voters, Hawaii and California, are safely blue. But the groups’ numbers have also increased in Sun Belt states that are becoming tipping points in American elections. “Think about where we are growing the fastest: It’s Texas, it’s Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina, Nevada,”  AAPI Victory Alliance Executive Director Varun Nikore told me.

The Asian American population isn’t nearly large enough to decide those states on its own. Although Asian Americans represent almost 9 percent of eligible voters in Nevada, they represent only about 3 percent in Georgia, Arizona, and North Carolina, Frey shared with me. Yet the rise in voter participation has proved crucial for Democrats in several closely balanced states. A growing number of Asian American voters—mostly in the Washington, D.C., suburbs—were central to tilting Virginia blue over roughly the past 15 years. They played a comparable tipping-point role in Democrats’ victories in Georgia last year, at both the presidential and senatorial level. TargetSmart, a Democratic voter-targeting firm, calculates that some 60,000 more Asian Americans voted in the state in November than had in 2016—an increase that far exceeded Joe Biden’s narrow margin of victory there… “

And the turnout trendlines are in the right direction for Democrats. As Brownstein notes, “Nationwide, Asian Americans increased their turnout at an astounding pace last year—soaring from about 49 percent in 2016 to just over 59 percent, the census found…. In its recently released analysis of voter files nationwide, Catalist calculated that the total number of votes cast by Asian Americans grew from 2016 to 2020 by almost 40 percent, reaching about 7 million. TargetSmart, in its analysis, put the increase even higher, at about 47 percent.”

In a close race – national or local – any smaller demographic group can be decisive. It appears that Republicans have blown whatever hopes they had for gaining traction with Asian American voters, and that’s a good thing for Democrats, who now have even reasons for insuring that GOTV programs for them are well-funded.

Teixeira: Message Discipline Needed for Dems to Survive Midterm Elections

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

Right Now, You Should Be Asking Yourself: What Can I Do to Help Insulate Democrats in Competitive Districts from Blowback?

No, not even an economic revival, covid containment and some good legislation can guarantee, or even make it likely, that Democratic control of the House can survive the next election. Far from it. Democrats need not just a good record to run on but all the help they can get defusing the now predictable lines of attack that the GOP will wield. Sure, Republicans will make these attacks anyway. But the less real world referents for these attacks they have, the better off the Democrats will be.

Message discipline comrades, message discipline. All elections are now national! Kyle Kondik at Sabato’s Crystal Ball runs down just how dicey the situation is for the Democrats in the House.

“Every state with more than one U.S. House district will be redrawing their district lines this cycle to account for population changes, and that process is on hold because of delays in the U.S. Census. The Census Bureau won’t be releasing the granular data states need to draw new maps until later this year. While some states are trying to get a head start — Oklahoma, for instance, drew new state legislative districts using older data — we likely will not get a good handle on what new maps will look like until the fall. Among those delayed by the stalled census is us: We have not released House ratings yet as we await the new districts.

On balance, we expect the reapportionment of House seats — which we analyzed late last month — to benefit Republicans to a small extent. Redistricting seems likely to also help Republicans. Given that the Democrats only won a 222-213 edge in the House last year, Republicans only need to net five seats to win the House. That kind of small gain could come from reapportionment and redistricting alone.

This doesn’t even take into account the usual advantages that the party that does not control the White House typically has in midterm House elections: Since the end of World War II, the average seat loss by the presidential party in midterms is 27 seats. In those 19 midterm elections, the presidential party has lost seats 17 times. The exceptions were 1998 and 2002, when the president’s party made small gains.

House Democrats are facing twin challenges next year: The overall consequences of reapportionment and redistricting, as well as midterm history. The combination of the two will be difficult for Democrats to overcome. But what if they only had to overcome one of these challenges? What if no district lines were changing? Could Democrats hold the House under the current map?….

The larger point of this exercise is that we would start many more Democratic-held seats as Toss-ups than Republican-held ones even if no district lines were changing.

Overall, these ratings show 211 districts at least leaning to the Republicans, 203 at least leaning to the Democrats, and 21 Toss-ups (19 held by Democrats, two held by Republicans). Splitting the Toss-ups roughly down the middle — let’s say 11-10 Republican — would result in a 222-213 Republican majority, good for a nine-seat Republican net gain and a narrow majority the same size as the one Democrats elected in November.

In other words, Republicans already appear set up to significantly threaten the Democratic House majority, and the net impact of reapportionment and redistricting may make their task easier. Republicans are not guaranteed to win the House next year, but the majority is clearly there for the taking.”

This may not be what people want to hear. But it is the reality we live in. Act accordingly.

New Rural Poll: Dems Not Getting Credit for Good Works

At Daily Kos, Aldous J. Pennyfarthing notes a new poll Democrats will find concerning, and comments:

Millions of people just live their lives, blissfully ignorant of the minutiae that go into spending bills meant to benefit them directly. They got their Biden Bucks, but they don’t necessarily know whom to credit.

To wit: $300 monthly child tax credits will start landing in people’s bank accounts in July, and most people have already gotten their $1,400 stimulus payments. While this much-needed relief is the work of Joe Biden and congressional Democrats (exclusively Democrats, in fact), not everyone in rural America has grokked what the Democratic Party has done for them.

Pennyfarthing quotes from a Washington Post report on the poll:

new poll of rural voters, commissioned by a super PAC that seeks to build support for Democrats in rural areas, underscores the point: It finds that a large percentage of rural voters in battleground states are not ascribing credit for stimulus payments to the Democratic Party.

The poll, which was conducted by YouGov for Rural Objective PAC, finds that only 50 percent of those rural voters associate “providing stimulus checks directly to families and workers” with the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, 32 percent of those rural voters associate this with the GOP, and another 11 percent associate it with neither party. That’s a total of 43 percent who don’t associate it with Democrats.
Pennyfarthing notes that “The poll was conducted in rural areas of nine 2022 Senate battlegrounds: Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. And while Trump and Republicans did support stimulus payments last year, at the height of the pandemic-related economic crisis (as did Democrats, proving that our party supports helping people all the time, even when a president from the other party is poised to take credit), they balked when it came to the last round of payments—payments we should really be calling BIDEN BUCKS every chance we get.” Further,
“We’re not connecting with these voters, even if we have great policy,” J.D. Scholten, executive director of Rural Objective PAC, told the Post.

The poll also found that 68% of the rural voters surveyed supported the stimulus checks, but they’re not necessarily crediting Democrats.

The messaging problems don’t end there, of course. Despite a consistent push from Democrats to get rural areas outfitted with broadband—an initiative that’s strongly reflected in Biden’s infrastructure proposals—only 42% of rural voters associate broadband investments with Democrats, whereas 25% credit Republicans.

How can this be? Well, there are at least two big reasons for it.

First of all, because they have no shame nor honor, Republicans have been scrambling to take credit for Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which every single one of them voted against.

Pennyfarthing cites some examples of Republicans actually claiming credit for Democratic reforms, and adds:

There are so many more. Since Republicans are rarely punished by their “traditional values” voters for lying (which, to be fair, is a longstanding Republican tradition), it appears that they’re getting away with it.

Circling back to reasons why rural voters are crediting the GOP for the American Rescue Plan, people tend to underestimate exactly how much government help they actually get….We need to keep reminding folks that Democrats are better for their pocketbooks—and that this advantage isn’t limited to stimulus payments and infrastructure proposals. The past several decades prove that Democratic presidents—and policies—are better for the economy than Republican presidents, no matter what measure you look at.

If we can convince enough rural voters in purple states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Arizona that Democrats are the ones who are actually on their side, maybe we can keep those states in the blue column for the foreseeable future.

Joe Biden’s policies are popular. We just have to make sure everyone knows they’re Democratic policies, or we’ll eventually cede control to a passel of lying scoundrels who want to spend the rest of their lives pissing on the heads of their constituents … while telling them it’s Trump Champagne.

Republicans have benefitted from messages du jour re-branding the Democratic Party in a negative light. With few exceptions, however, Democratic ads focus on candidates, but rarely on the differences between the two parties. It’s not enough for a party to have great policies. Democrats need to declare an all-out campaign to claim credit for their popular policies.

Political Strategy Notes

“The Biden administration has regularly signaled that it truly wants other forms of bipartisanship wherever it can find them,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in his Washington Post column. “But the competition bill’s happy path will almost certainly be the exception, not the rule. Any illusions about bipartisanship ought to have been shattered by McCarthy and McConnell’s rejection of the Jan. 6 commission deal. The agreement between Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.) granted Republicans much of what they wanted on the inquiry. That included giving each party’s leadership five appointments. What could have been more bipartisan?…Let’s stipulate that bipartisanship is lovely when it happens. I’ll always salute Bob Dole and George McGovern for building the modern food stamp program and Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy for coming together behind the State Children’s Health Insurance Program….Those who would turn bipartisanship into a fetish need to understand that this Republican Party is not the party of Dole or Hatch, and a longer way still from the great progressive Republicans of times past. When it comes to doing big things, whether to reform the political system through the For the People Act or to expand access to child care, health care and education, Democrats must be willing to act on their own….And this Republican Party is not even sure what it thinks about democracy anymore, given the degree to which its main strategy involves cutting opponents out of the electorate rather than persuading them its way. No wonder the GOP would rather have us forget Jan. 6 altogether.”

The failure of GOP leadership and an overwhelming majority of their House members to support a bipartisan investigation of the January 6th thug riot in the capitol has to be one of the most shameful milestones in the history of the congress. Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan unloaded a welcome sense of outrage:

In “Republicans fear January 6 probe could undercut 2022 midterm message,” Manu Raja writes: “Senior Republicans are making clear they have little interest in moving forward with a sweeping January 6 investigation in part because a detailed probe could become politically damaging and amount to a distraction for their party just as control of Congress is at stake in next year’s midterm elections….Publicly and privately, Republicans are making that case, with Senate GOP Whip John Thune noting that there’s concern among some GOP members that the findings of the probe “could be weaponized politically and drug into next year.”…Sen. Gary Peters, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said there’s a reason why Republicans are battling the commission….”They’re afraid of the truth because it puts them on the wrong side of what is right,” Peters, a Michigan Democrat, said Wednesday.”

At Vox, Nicole Narea writes, “It was clear after the election that Trump had made gains among Latino voters in places like Florida’s Miami-Dade County and Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. The newest and most detailed data yet shows that the trend was nationwide. According to a recent report by the Democratic data firm Catalist, the number of Latinos who cast votes increased by 31 percent from 2016 to 2020, accounting for a 10th of the electorate. A comfortable majority of Latinos — an estimated 61 percent — supported President Joe Biden, but there was about an 8 percentage-point swing toward Trump, based on data on votes cast for either the Democratic or Republican nominees in 2016 and 2020….The data shows that many Latino voters, who represent the fastest-growing share of the electorate, are not firmly part of the Democratic base. Instead, they seem to be persuadable voters, presenting a potential opportunity for both Democrats and Republicans. This is especially true for voters who aren’t hyperpartisan: new and infrequent voters, as well as people who flipped their votes in 2020 or who decided to sit the election out entirely….Democratic losses among Latinos likely already lost the party congressional seats in 2020. If Democrats are to maintain control of Congress in the midterms, sustaining and growing their support among Latinos will be key.”

How Freezing the Number of U.S. House Reps at 435 Since 1929 Screws Democrats

You don’t have to look far to find articles about the pros and cons of adding states to the U.S., such as proposals for statehood for Washington, D.C.  Ditto for increasing the size of the U.S. Supreme Court. More rare, however, are thoughtful discussions about increasing the size of the U.S. House of Representatives.

But Dennis Negron has done exactly that in his article, “The Different Ways of Expanding the House: The number of House representatives has remained largely static for almost a century” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball. As Negron explains:

With the 2020 census results out, we now know where the balance of power will be once the 118th Congress assembles in January 2023. Southern and western states generally gain power at the expense of Rust Belt and northeastern states. Because the House is arbitrarily capped at 435 members, it means that every time the census is taken, there’s a game of musical chairs that determines which states gain more representation in Congress and which lose, depending on how their populations grew relative to the nation in the previous decade. Texas, for example, has seen explosive growth and has been the top seat gainer since 2000, earning two seats in 2000, four seats in 2010, and two seats in 2020. But that growth has been at the expense of states like New York, which in the same Census years lost two seats in both 2000 and 2010, and one seat in 2020.

This means that states end up with more residents per representative than other states. Using the 2020 census results, Montana’s two House members will each represent about 543,000 people apiece; on the other side of the spectrum, Delaware’s single member will represent all 991,000 people. So how can the House truly represent the state populations?

First, it’s important to bear in mind that current House membership stands at 435 because of a law passed in 1929 (the Reapportionment Act of 1929), which caps the number at 435. There is no constitutional provision that dictates the maximum number of representatives that the House can hold. The other thing to remember is that states are meant to be equally represented in the Senate with each one sending two senators; in the House, however, the argument was to have the chamber represent the population in general. As states were admitted, new seats were gradually added to account for the population growth. The last time seats were added were for Alaska and Hawaii when they attained statehood and each had a single seat, increasing the House to 437. However, the House reverted to 435 after the 1960 census and has remained static ever since.

What is so good about fixing the number of House members at 435? Arguments that it facilitates political stability fall flat, when considering the founders’ intentions. They clearly meant for the number to increase as the population grew.

The way it is now, Democrats get screwed by “musical chairs” gerrymandering, not just in the House, but also in the Electoral College which reflects the 435 limit. Of course, Republicans like it a lot, since it feeds their ability to dominate

It wouldn’t be easy to change the number. As Negron notes, “The obvious solution is the simplest one, though in today’s polarized environment, it may not fly so well because it will require the Senate to pass it too: increase the size of the House by repealing the 1929 law and passing a different one that either sets a higher number or lets the total float.” But, as soon as Democrats win a real working majority — say 53 or more U.S. Senate seats — they should seriously consider such a reform.

Negron discusses other possible measures to rectify the 435 rip-off, some of them interesting, but likely more difficult than the repeal and replace reform noted above. Yes, correcting the injustice of the 435 limitation would serve Democrats in the short run. Over the longer range, however, it might serve Republicans as well. But it would certainly serve the cause of fairness, as well as representative democracy.

Dissident Republicans Form New Centrist Movement

Chris Vance, a former chair of the Washington State Republican Party, state representative and a Senior Fellow at the Niskanen Center, reports on “A new movement to restore or replace the Republican party” at The Seattle Times:

The rise of Donald Trump and the transformation of the Republican party created a new American political movement as millions of formerly Republican leaning voters, and hundreds of prominent former Republican leaders, turned against Trump and his new authoritarian Republican party. Multiple organizations were formed to help defeat Trump and elect President Joe Biden and other Democrats in 2020, including the Lincoln Project, Republican Voters Against Trump and Stand Up Republic. Together, we were part of the coalition that won the 2020 election.

….This week, I joined with dozens of prominent current and former Republicans, including former U.S. Reps. Barbara Comstock of Virginia and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, former Gov. Bill Weld, of Massachusetts, Ambassador Jim Glassman, former Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, former Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, former Chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele, and many more, to announce our support for a manifesto, “A Call for American Renewal,” and to pledge ourselves to “either reimagine a party dedicated to our founding ideals or else hasten the creation of such an alternative.” In other words, over time we seek to either restore or replace the current Republican party.

Vance, now a self-described ‘Independent’, explains further:

Millions of us are now politically homeless. We believe there is a demand for a third option, for a movement dedicated to core American principles. Specifically, a movement or party which:

·  Supports a free, open society in which everyone can go as far as their efforts and talents will take them in a free-market economy, while maintaining a robust safety net for those who need assistance.

·  Welcomes America’s growing diversity and stands for the protection of the rights of all Americans to live their lives as they choose, free from racism, sexism, homophobia, and all forms of hate and intolerance.

·  Is committed to energetic American leadership around the world to protect democracy and human rights.

·  Opposes voter suppression and supports common sense reforms to enhance democracy.

·  And first and foremost, stands for truth, democracy, the Constitution, and the rule of law, and stands against nativist, isolationist authoritarianism.

Politically, we will work in partnership with others to elect candidates who share our goals, including moderate Democrats, courageous principled Republicans, or those running under a new party banner. As this movement takes shape, I will be working to explore the possibility of creating a Washington state chapter.

Vance adds,

The elections of 2016 and 2020 blew up our political system. The Republican party is shrinking, as record numbers of voters now call themselves independents. The number of Americans identifying as Republican is the lowest it has been in a decade, according to a recent Gallup poll. As I have written in these pages, and elsewhere, we live in an era of political realignment and instability as our party system is changing.

Could such a centrist movement play a pivotal role in the 2022 midterm elections, helping moderate Democrats win in swing districts and states? Anything that further divides the GOP is likely to be good for Democrats in the longer run. But 2022 is next year, and this group will have to move fast to have a significant impact on the midterm elections. If Republicans win Senate control and a House majority, they may not matter much.

Walter: How New Voters Helped Biden Win

The state level data regarding the 2020 elections many political analysts have been waiting for is starting to roll in. Here’s some analysis from Amy Walter’s “New Voters Helped Propel Biden in 2020” at the Cook Political Report:

We know that 2020 produced the largest voter turnout in modern history. But, for a detailed understanding of who voted—and how they voted—we had to wait until state voter files were updated and analyzed. This week, Catalist, a Democratic data analytics firm, released their first deep dive into the 2020 election using their database, which, they note “includes 15 years of voter registration records, supplemented by large-scale polling, modeling and precinct-level geographic analysis.”

What they found was a national electorate more diverse than any in American history. Overall, they estimate that 72 percent of the electorate was white, a 2-point drop from 2016. As recently as 2008, 77 percent of the electorate was white. Turnout among Asian Americans was up 39 percent from 2016, while Latino turnout was up 31 percent. Even so, white voters continue to have the highest turnout rates of any group. Seventy-four percent of white voters turned out in 2020, compared to just 50 percent of eligible Latino voters, 63 percent of Black voters and 62 percent of Asian voters. In other words, even as turnout among voters of color increased, they are still punching below their weight. This was especially pronounced in fast-growing and diverse sunbelt states. A Catalist estimate of voters and non-voters across battleground states in the South and West — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas found “nearly as many non-voting people of color (11 million) as there are voters of color (13 million), mostly concentrated in Latino communities. The numbers look quite different among white people in these states, with only 9 million non-voters and 24 million voters.”

Despite the turnout increases, however, “Biden underperformed both Obama’s 2012 and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 performance with Latino and Black voters. How is that possible? After all, the conventional wisdom has long held that any surge in non-white turnout would benefit Democrats exclusively.” Walter explains,

Catalist estimates that “22% of Latino voters were first-time voters, who we haven’t seen in our entire database of general election voting going back to 2008. By contrast, just 14% of the national electorate was entirely new. When we take a more expansive view of new voters, including people who were new to voting in a given state compared to 2016, a full 40% of Latino voters were new presidential voters, while the national number is 29% of the overall electorate. With such a large number of new Latino voters in the electorate, it is plausible that they drove a big part of the change in Latino’s overall support numbers. As marginal voters enter into the electorate, their partisan preferences may move closer to a 50 / 50 split naturally.” In other words, these new voters were likely less ideological and less partisan than habitual voters, which helped boost Trump’s overall share of the Latino vote.

However, the overall surge in Black turnout (Catalist estimates that turnout went up 14 points among Black voters from 2016) helped Biden yield “more net Democratic votes from Black voters as a whole in 2020 compared to 2016.” For example, in Georgia, “higher black turnout yielded an additional 200,000 net votes for Biden, above and beyond the margin that Clinton got from Black voters in 2016. This was key to winning the state, as Trump would have handily won the state without the extra 200,000 net votes.” In other words, despite the fact that Biden’s margin among Black voters was smaller than Obama or Clinton’s, the overall increase in Black votes more than overcame that shrinking margin.

Overall, Catalist concludes that the unprecedented surge of new voters into the electorate — especially younger voters and voters of color, ultimately benefitted Biden more than Trump. They estimate that new voters “supported Biden at substantially higher rates overall (56%) than 2016 voters who returned in 2020 (51%).”

However, Walter adds, “Even so, some states with the highest percentages of new voters — like Texas and Florida — voted for Trump, while states with fewer new voters — like Pennsylvania and Minnesota- voted for Biden.” Walter also notes that Boomer political influence is on the wane, according to the catalyst data: “Those under the age of 40 made up one-third of the electorate, a seven-point jump from 2016, while the share of the electorate of Baby Boomer age dropped to 44 percent. As recently as 2008, Boomers made up 61 percent of the electorate.”

We will report more analysis of the Catalist study as it comes in. For now, it’s a safe bet that both major parties will be reconfiguring their demographic outreach strategies in light of the new data.