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Teixeira: Biden Bolshevism Watch (2)

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

Is it that the left just can’t take “yes” for an answer?

One has to wonder given the continued lack of enthusiasm for Biden in certain quarters. This is strange given that the left presumably stands for, well, left policies. And Biden’s got ’em by the bushel, as Matt Yglesias lays out in an excellent, detailed article on Vox.

1. A big minimum wage increase
2. Free college for most
3. Enhancing the Affordable Care Act
4. Dramatic transformation of federal housing policy
5. A huge financial boost to schools with low-income students
6. A labor-friendly climate agenda
7. Major commitments on union organizing
8. Back to the future on immigration

As Yglesias points out, this adds up to a lot. And how far Biden gets with it if elected will have less to do with any lack of ambition and more to do with the Congress he has to work with. The logical course, therefore is to back Biden to the hilt, work hard to deliver him the Congress he’ll need and be prepared to put pressure on him to stick with the commitments he has already made.

Or is it really the case that the left can’t take “yes” for answer? Between now and November, we’ll find out.

“Biden is a mainstream Democrat, and as the Democratic Party has grown broadly more progressive in recent years, he is now running on arguably the most progressive policy platform of any Democratic nominee in history.

It’s a detailed and aggressive agenda that includes doubling the minimum wage and tripling funding for schools with low-income students. He is proposing the most sweeping overhaul of immigration policy in a generation, the biggest pro-union push in three generations, and the most ambitious environmental agenda of all time.

If Democrats take back the Senate in the fall, Biden could make his agenda happen. A primary is about airing disagreements, but legislating is about building consensus. The Democratic Party largely agrees on a suite of big policy changes that would improve the lives of millions of Americans in meaningful ways. Biden has detailed, considered plans to put much of this agenda in place. But getting these plans done will be driven much more by the outcome of the congressional elections than his questioned ambition.”


Teixeira: It’s an Older Voter Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand (2)

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

Rob Griffin and John Sides have a very good article up on the Monkey Cage blog where they describe in detail Biden’s current relative over-performance among older voters and what a pickle this puts Trump in. They are using the Nationscape data, 6,000 interviews a week, which I have referenced many times.

As for why this is, they basically wind up saying: “Beats us!” though they are pretty sure it isn’t just a reaction to the coronavirus crisis and Trump’s dreadful handling thereof.

Herewith, my own analysis of the Nationscape data since the beginning of the year for the 65+ age group, nationally and for selected states, with comparisons to the States of Change data from 2016.

National: Biden +6, Clinton -15
Florida Biden -6, Clinton -20
Georgia Biden -2, Clinton -27
Iowa Biden -11, Clinton -24
Michigan Biden +20, Clinton -9
North Carolina Biden -17, Clinton -21
Ohio Biden -2, Clinton -21
Pennsylvania Biden +4, Clinton -16
Wisconsin Biden +12, Clinton -16


GQR Research: Review of 1000+ Polls Shows Most Nations Still Cautious on Reopening Economies

The following article is cross-posted from a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research paper, the 11th in a weekly series that summarizes and analyzes what is known about global public opinion on COVID-19:

Today GQR continues its weekly series of papers that summarize and analyze all publicly available public opinion data on the pandemic, worldwide. This issue features an in-depth analysis of how publics worldwide are reacting as many countries begin to reopen their economies and societies after weeks of lockdown. The main takeaways from this week’s edition  include:

  • Global publics feel cautious about re-opening. In most countries, people are more likely to feel their government is seeking to reopen the economy and society too quickly rather than too slowly. Strong fears of a second wave of COVID-19 later this year add to this sense of caution.
  • In most countries, high shares now feel uncomfortable going to their workplaces, and outright majorities feel uncomfortable resuming most other major economic and social activities, apart from food shopping.
  • Publics in most countries are particularly uncomfortable with the idea of sending children back to school.
  • Countries that have built trust with their publics on battling the coronavirus tend to see greater public readiness to resume economic activity. This undercuts the idea of a strict tradeoff between health protection and economic revival, and suggests instead that countries where there is low trust in their leaders on battling COVID-19 – including the US – may also pay an extra economic penalty as their publics hesitate to return to workplaces, stores, schools, and entertainment venues.

With this edition of Pandemic PollWatch, GQR has now reviewed in all over 1,000 different opinion polls from 100 countries and territories. We invite readers to alert us to any relevant global polling data not captured here. Future installments in this series will go into more depth about other public opinion dynamics regarding the pandemic.

Read the full article HERE.


Trump’s Ego Makes for a Dangerous Convention

In pondering the president’s demands for a filled-up convention venue in August, I came up with some unsettling explanations at New York:

Back when run-first, conservative strategies were still the vogue in college football, coaches often quoted Texas legend Darrell Royal in saying that when you throw a forward pass, three things can happen (a completion, an incompletion, or an interception) — and two of them are bad.

You could say the same of the live, in-person national political convention Donald Trump seems determined to hold in Charlotte (or, he threatens, some other city and state where the local yokels don’t interfere with his grandiose plans). It’s possible the coronavirus pandemic will have abated enough that he’ll be able to hold the traditional convention he wants by August without large negative consequences. That’s the best-case scenario, to be sure.

But as Michael Kruse notes, anything less than that could be really problematic:

“[M]aybe more than everybody else, the optics-obsessed former reality television star is aware of the potential damage of the image of a half-full, semi-silent arena—a looming totem to the insufficiencies of his administration’s response to the still spreading coronavirus.”

In other words, a live, indoor convention under the social-distancing regime most experts think will still be in order for large gatherings even if they are allowed might be counterproductive, no matter how many colorful MAGA masks are distributed throughout a necessarily reduced and muffled audience.

But that scenario is infinitely less perilous than one in which Trump and Republicans defy the experts and hold an old-school convention in which Trump fans in a packed and sweaty throng toss thousands of droplets into the air as they cheer their warrior-king at every juncture.

So why is Trump taking this kind of risk? Is it simply an extension of the Republican craze for “reopening” or the tendency of conservatives to believe that precautions against a pandemic are cowardly and un-American (not at all a majority opinion among rank-and-file voters)? Or is it something deeper?

Kruse thinks it’s a personal thing with Trump that dates back to his experience with the 1988 Republican convention in New Orleans that nominated then-Vice-President George H.W. Bush. At that event, he was squired onto the convention floor in its final moments by lobbyist Laurance Gay, at the request of Roger Stone, and achieved a galvanic moment:

“’So we went down there, and the speeches were made,’ Gay recalled, and Bush capped his remarks by placing his hand on his heart and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and then Barbara Bush joined him on the podium, and the rest of his family, and their families, and Dan Quayle, his pick for vice president, and his family, ‘and there’s 25 people out there, and with that, the band strikes up, the confetti starts to fall, the balloons are rising and falling,’ 150,000 of them, red, white and blue, and there were 15-plus minutes of sustained, ecstatic sound.

“And in the middle of this scene, Trump said something, not quite to Gay, who was immediately to his left, but loud enough for him to hear.

“’This is what I want.'”

With himself, not Poppy Bush, as the object of all that intense affection, of course. This particular itch was at least partially scratched in Cleveland in 2016:

“In 2016 in Cleveland, of course, he became the Republican nominee, and that stage—his stage—featured the big bright white letters of his name bracketed by panels of gold and a backdrop of American flags, while his hour-and-15-minute-long remarks were defined by language that was dystopian and dark—’violence in our streets,’ ‘chaos in our communities,’ ‘damage and devastation.’ But when he was finished, he was feted the way Bush had been feted; out came his wife and his family and the VP-to-be and his family, and up went the noise of the crowd, and down came the balloons, all that red, white and blue, and Trump pointed and made a face like an O. ‘That,’ biographer Michael D’Antonio told me this week, ‘must have been an orgasmic moment for him.'”

And that, mind you, was at a convention where his control was somewhat limited, as shown by Ted Cruz’s prime-time speech in which the former Trump rival dissed his conquerer by refusing to endorse him. Given the president’s famous affection for military hoopla and his limitless ego, you can only imagine the kind of idolatrous display of fealty he might expect at a point where his party — including Cruz and many other previous detractors — is entirely in thrall to him.

Ultimately, the direction of the pandemic will determine whether Trump even has the option of pursuing convention folly, and the consequences if he does and guesses wrong. He might be able to mitigate the risk a bit by moving outdoors (that’s where Obama accepted his nomination in Denver in 2008); there is a large NASCAR racetrack nearby, which would be a good cultural fit. But it’s possible the man just can’t shake an addiction to tightly packed throngs of the sort that make him long for the resumption of MAGA rallies.


Political Strategy Notes

Federal, state and local Democratic candidates must respond strongly to the horrific killing of George Floyd by a policeman in Minneapolis. Democratic Pesidential frontrunner Joe Biden’s comment is a good start: “George Floyd’s life mattered. It mattered as much as mine. It mattered as much as anyone’s in this country. At least it should have…“It cuts at the very heart of our sacred belief that all Americans are equal in rights and in dignity, and it sends a very clear message to the black community and to black lives that are under threat every single day.” Politico’s Quint Forgey reports, further, “Biden on Wednesday compared the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s arrest to the 2014 death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who was placed in a chokehold by police in New York and whose final plea — “I can’t breathe” — evolved into a rallying cry for protests against police brutality…“Watching [Floyd’s] life be taken in the same manner, echoing nearly the same words … is a tragic reminder that this was not an isolated incident, but a part of an ingrained, systemic cycle of injustice that still exists in this country,” Biden said…We have to get to the root of all this. You know, we have to ensure that the Floyd family receive the justice they’re entitled to,” Biden said. “And as a nation … we have to work relentlessly to eradicate these systemic failures that inflict so much damage on not just one family, one community, but on the people of color all across this nation.”

FromRevealed: conservative group fighting to restrict voting tied to powerful dark money network” by Sam Levine and Anna Massogliaat The Guardian: “This story was reported in collaboration with OpenSecrets…A powerful new conservative organization fighting to restrict voting in the 2020 presidential election is really just a rebranded group that is part of a dark money network already helping Donald Trump’s unprecedented effort to remake the US federal judiciary, the Guardian and OpenSecrets reveal…The organization, which calls itself the Honest Elections Project, seemed to emerge out of nowhere a few months ago and started stoking fears about voter fraud. Backed by a dark money group funded by rightwing stalwarts like the Koch brothers and Betsy DeVos’ family, the Honest Elections Project is part of the network that pushed the US supreme court picks Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, and is quickly becoming a juggernaut in the escalating fight over voting rights…it has also been extremely active in the courts, filing briefs in favor of voting restrictions in Nevada, Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota, among other places, at times represented by lawyers from the same firm that represents Trump. By having a hand in both voting litigation and the judges on the federal bench, this network could create a system where conservative donors have an avenue to both oppose voting rights and appoint judges to back that effort.”

If anyone was foolish enough to think that Trump couldn’t get much more hypocrtical, they should check out Kevin Liptak’s “Trump could have voted in person in Florida this year but chose not to” at CNN Politics, which points out: “As President Donald Trump rolled to his West Palm Beach, Florida, golf course on the morning of March 7, his motorcade filed past a library where local officials were preparing for the first day of in-person early voting in Florida’s presidential primary contest…Trump didn’t stop at that site or any of the 15 other early voting locations in Palm Beach County that were opening that day. By the time the library opened for voting at 10 a.m., Trump had already arrived at his golf course — whose main entrance is across Summit Boulevard from the library. When he departed the course hours later, he didn’t stop to vote either…Trump would drive past the library four more times that weekend without dropping in to cast a ballot. Instead, he voted by mail — the very option he has begun railing against as governors seek to expand remote voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

Thomas B. Edsall observes in his NYT column, “The partisan fight over the lockdown has shown us, once again, how differently the choices government leaders make look to different constituencies of our society. Whether you emphasize the imperative to save lives or the consequences of economic devastation, with more than 36 million unemployed as of May 14, determines what you think the proper response to the outbreak should be, to a degree that is astonishing even in our deeply polarized society.” Edsall notes that “two Pew surveys, one conducted April 7-12, the other April 29-May 5” indicate “that in a matter of three weeks, Republican voters shifted from a modest majority (51-48) concerned that the restrictions would be lifted too quickly, to a similarly modest majority (53-47) concerned that the restrictions will not be lifted quickly enough. Democrats, on the contrary, went from a decisive majority who feared (81-18) that restrictions would be lifted too quickly to an even stronger concern (87-13).”

If you were wondering which states had “The most expensive 2020 Senate races so far, by ad spending,” the NBC News Political Unit has the skinny: “Here are the top ten most expensive Senate races so far, by ad spending:

  1. Maine: $25.6 million
  2. North Carolina: $20.9 million
  3. Iowa: $13.3 million
  4. Michigan: $13 million
  5. Kentucky: 12.4 million
  6. Georgia (special election for the seat vacated by former Sen. Johnny Isakson): $10.1 million
  7. Arizona: $9.3 million
  8. Alabama: $6.1 million
  9. Colorado: $5.4 million
  10. Texas: $4.2 million”

The NBC News Political Unit also flagged some upcomming “Senate primaries and run-offs to watch,” including these Democratic contests:

June 2

  • Iowa Senate Democratic Primary: Who will take on GOP Sen. Joni Ernst in the fall? Theresa Greenfield is the favorite, but the Des Moines Register has endorsed rival Mike Franken, and there are three other candidates on the ballot, too. If Greenfield doesn’t get to 35 percent support, the nomination will be decided by a party convention later in June.
  • Montana Senate Democratic Primary: How much strength will Gov. Steve Bullock show in his likely lockup of the nomination to face GOP Sen. Steve Daines?

June 9

  • Georgia Senate Democratic Primary: Former special House election candidate Jon Ossoff competes against former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, former Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Sarah Riggs Amico, and others for the chance to take on GOP Sen. David Perdue. If no one gets 50 percent, there’s a runoff August 11.
  • South Carolina Senate Democratic Primary: Jaime Harrison hopes for a strong showing as he preps for an expected run against GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.

June 23

  • Kentucky Senate Democratic Primary: Well-funded Democrat Amy McGrath wants a solid performance in the primary as she prepares a general election run against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

June 30 

  • Colorado Senate Democratic Primary: Former governor and onetime White House hopeful John Hickenlooper is the heavy favorite against progressive and past Senate and House candidate former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff to take on vulnerable GOP Sen. Cory Gardner.

July 14 

  • Maine Senate Democratic Primary: State House Speaker Sara Gideon is the favorite for the nod to take on vulnerable GOP Sen. Susan Collins.
  • Texas Senate Democratic Run-off: Deep-pocketed M.J. Hegar is fighting against longtime state Sen. Royce West before taking on Republican Sen. John Cornyn.

August 4 

  • Arizona Senate Democratic Primary: Mark Kelly has to dispatch a challenge from his left in order to face Republican Sen. Martha McSally in one of the cycle’s marquee races.

At The Nation Jeet Heer explains why “Mitch McConnell Is Even Worse Than Trump,” and writes, “As grotesque as Trump is, McConnell is worse. McConnell has been around longer and has helped create the conditions that made Trump’s rise possible. McConnell’s obstruction during the Obama years, including blocking the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland, contributed to the demoralization of the Democratic base and the larger feeling in America that Washington is hopelessly gridlocked. In 2016 Trump skillfully exploited the anxiousness created by gridlock and sold himself as the outsider who can fix it…Democrats are eager to defeat Trump in the fall election. But they should bear in mind that McConnell is the bigger villain. The goal should be to make sure McConnell loses his position as majority leader. Even sweeter would be if he were ejected from his seat.” McConnell has declined to check Trump’s worst instincts all along. He is more responsible for the current gridlock and the death of bipartisanship than any other individual. Those who want to contribute to his defeat, click here.

“There’s a lot for a political party to like about absentee voting. As a get-out-the-vote matter, once someone’s submitted an absentee ballot, that’s one fewer voter whom the party has to get to the polls,” David Shorr and Kathleen Sullivan write in “WI Dems Acted Quickly To Spur Voter Turnout In April. Can They Maintain That Momentum This Fall? If the Wisconsin Democratic Party truly can learn and adapt on the fly, as it seems to have done in April, it could be a game-changer for the state and even the country” at Talking Points Memo. “And because absentee ballot requests are public, the transparency of the process makes it possible for a political party to track each step: from the voter’s initial request, to the local clerk sending out a ballot, to the clerk ultimately receiving a filled-out ballot. This permits the party to do multiple “touches”: to check in with voters and remind them of key races and issues, all while urging submission of a completed ballot and offering information that can assist in overcoming obstacles to the process…Tracking ballots as they’re requested and returned also can help the party make course-corrections on voter turnout methods and messages while they count — focusing and re-focusing on where efforts can be most fruitful…If the Wisconsin Democratic Party truly can learn and adapt on the fly, as it seems to have done in April, it could be a game-changer for the state and even the country. ”


Trump Preparing Challenge to an Election Loss

In watching Trump’s bizarre messaging on voting by mail, it hit me that he wasn’t really trying to influence election laws, and I wrote it up at New York:

Trump is now regularly claiming that voting by mail is inherently illegitimate, except for grudging exceptions for people who can’t make it to the polls. So, presumably, states that allow for no-excuse voting by mail in November are holding “substantially fraudulent” elections, to use his description for such procedures.  That’s 34 states who do so by law (including battleground states Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), 11 more that so far are waiving excuse requirements this pandemic year (including New Hampshire), and another that may be forced to do so by a lawsuit (Texas).

A group of 30 political scientists who recently met to look at scary post-election scenarios explained exactly how a vote-by-mail contest might play out, as Louis Jacobson noted at Cook Political Report:

“On Election Night, the Republicans have the lead in a key battleground state, but that lead is erased due to late-counted ballots favoring the Democrats. The participants looked at a scenario where this happened in Michigan. This state already has a modestly high level of mail balloting and expects to have significantly more this fall due to the pandemic. (Notice how these scenarios all revolve around the critical battleground states?)

“President Donald Trump could tweet that the initial count was sufficient and that mail ballots — an election method he’s already inveighed against repeatedly — are illegitimate and thus shouldn’t be counted.

“In Michigan, Democrats occupy the offices of governor, secretary of state, and attorney general, but the GOP controls both legislative chambers. Michigan Republicans could back Trump’s position and decide to submit their own slate of (Republican) electors, bucking the slate that is officially certified by the Democratic officeholders.”

If that seems implausible to you, remember how House Republican leaders Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy proclaimed in 2018 there was something fishy in late-counted mail and provisional ballots that enabled Democrats to overtake Republicans after Election Night in California House districts. There were no formal challenges because, (a) there was not a scintilla of evidence anything improper was going on (young and minority voters who lean Democratic are more likely than others to send in mail ballots late or to cast ballots deemed provisional because of some superficial flaw, and Democrats simply took greater advantage of changes in election procedures), and (b) the GOP lost the House by far more seats than those flipped in California.

In a close presidential election where one or two states may well determine the outcome in the Electoral College, crying “fraud” could have much more serious consequences. And yes, a Republican-controlled state legislature might claim for itself the right to name electors in a “disputed” popular-vote scenario; that very nearly happened in Florida in 2000 until the U.S. Supreme Court decided to intervene and award the presidency to George W. Bush.

Slow counts aside, other disputes involving voting by mail could trigger chaos, as in another scenario discussed by Jacobson’s political scientists:

“The participants discussed an example involving Philadelphia voters who, due to coronavirus-related delays, received their absentee ballots late. In this scenario, a state court has allowed these voters to vote by using an existing federal absentee ballot that is typically used by overseas servicemembers. The court allowed them to submit these ballots by the deadline for overseas voters, one week after the election.

“In the scenario, the GOP has challenged this state court decision in federal court, citing a lack of due process and arguing that it unfairly changed the rules of an election in the middle. The Democratic Party countered that the remedy imposed by the state court was justified because it was based on equal protection. In other words, both parties pointed to credible constitutional arguments for their case.”

And if Pennsylvania happens to be the tiebreaker in the Electoral College, you could again have the spectacle of the U.S. Supreme Court deciding a presidential election — all based on the kind of fact situation that led that same Supreme Court to order the disallowance of late mail ballots cast in Wisconsin during its primary earlier this year.

In a fair and rational world, we’d decide the presidency in a national popular-vote election under uniform national procedures and with Congress making available resources for efficient voting and counting and for the prevention and detection of actual fraud, such as it is. Trump and his party, however, not only support maintenance of the Electoral College forever but support and oppose state election decisions strictly based on who might benefit. It creates the situation where any relatively close election will be contested by those who have been told it has already been “rigged.” Even if chaos does not ensue, confidence in democracy will be seriously undermined, paving the way for God knows what.


Teixeira: Can the Democrats go 8 for 8 and 4 for 4 in the Southwest?

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

The Democrats have not controlled all 8 Senate seats in the Southwest states of AZ, CO, NM and NV since 1941. And the Democrats have not carried all four of these states in a Presidential election since 1948. This year, the Democrats could quite plausibly accomplish both of these feats–something the Democrats have not accomplished together since 1936. Ron Brownstein makes the case here, a case which accords with my own reading of the polls and trends and, at the Presidential level, is consistent with the data rolling in from the massive Nationscape survey. I’ll have more to say about this down the line.

And then there’s this:

“The scariest prospect for Republicans is that everything said …about Arizona and Colorado in particular could also apply to Texas, the foundation stone of the GOP’s national political strength. From Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin down south through Houston and San Antonio, the four metropolitan areas in what’s called the Texas triangle account for just over two-thirds of the state’s votes and jobs and more than three-fourths of its economic output.

All of them rank among America’s 10 fastest-growing cities, according to the census. (All are also big recipients of transplants from California, which sent over 86,000 migrants to Texas just in 2018.) And as they grow, they are shading more blue: In his narrow 2018 defeat, the Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke won the five counties encompassing those cities by nearly 800,000 votes, roughly six times then-President Barack Obama’s combined margin just six years earlier.

Like other observers, [Brookings Mountain West head Robert] Lang says that for now, the massive GOP advantage in Texas’ rural areas should allow Trump to hold it in 2020 (albeit likely by a much smaller margin than his 9-percentage-point victory last time). Republican Sen. John Cornyn also looks tough to beat. But in both parties, many agree that the shift away from the GOP in the large metropolitan areas driving the state’s population growth have placed Texas on the same political moving walkway as Colorado, Nevada and Arizona, only a few steps behind.”

For what it’s worth, the Nationscape data since the beginning of the year has Trump only up by a single point in Texas!


Teixeira: Biden Bolshevism Watch

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

It’s really very simple: If elected, Biden will govern from the center of the Democratic party. And the center has moved left.

“[I]f Biden is elected in November, the left may get a presidency it likes after all — or at least one it hates less than anticipated. The coronavirus outbreak and the resulting massive surge in unemployment has moved American political discourse to the left: Ideas that would have been considered too liberal for most Democrats a few months ago are now being proposed by Republicans. And if American politics is moving left, expect Biden to do the same. Biden was often cast as a centrist or a moderate during the Democratic primaries, but those labels don’t really describe his politics that well — he doesn’t really seem to have any kind of set ideology at all.

Instead, Biden’s long record in public office suggests that he is fairly flexible on policy — shifting his positions to whatever is in the mainstream of the Democratic Party at a given moment. So if Biden wins the presidency and his fellow Democrats are still clamoring for more government spending to help the pandemic recovery, Biden is likely to be a fairly liberal president, no matter how moderate he sounded in the primaries….

It’s hard to measure the precise center of American politics and how it has changed over the last few months. But it’s certainly moved left in response to the COVID-19 crisis — toward way more federal spending….Mirroring the shift in his party, Biden and his advisers are now reimagining his candidacy and presidency — rolling out more liberal policy plans, speaking in increasingly populist terms and joining forces with the most progressive voices in the party. Biden himself has invoked the idea that he might be entering the Oval Office facing a crisis on the scale of the Great Depression.”


Teixeira: But 2016! Clinton Was Ahead Too!

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

It is true that Clinton polled mostly ahead of Trump in the 2016 election campaign, yet still lost the election. It is also true that Biden, while ahead of Trump in the polls today, could still lose to Trump this year even if he stays ahead in the polls all the way to election day.

But it is not true that Biden is in exactly the same situation as Clinton was in 2016. No, his situation is better and here’s why as explained by Harry Enten.

“Almost any time I explain that Biden’s leading Trump, someone will inevitably bring up “but what about 2016.” That’s why this week marks an important milestone for the Biden campaign.

It’s one of the first times during the election year that Biden was clearly running ahead of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 pace in the matchup against Trump.

Four years ago, Trump closed the national gap quickly with Clinton as he was vanquishing Republican rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich from the presidential race. Clinton’s average lead shrank from 10 points during the first half of April to 6 points in the second half in April to 4 points in the first half in May to a mere 1 point in polls completed four years ago between May 16-May 23….

Although Clinton would regain some of her advantage in June 2016, the fact that the race became so close at this point four years ago was an indication that the electorate was somewhat unsettled. It showed that under the right circumstances, Clinton could lose nationally, or, at the very least, that Trump could come close enough nationally to win in the electoral college….

Biden’s lead, of course, is the steadiest of all time. His lead has never fallen to just a point or anywhere close. It’s been consistently at or right around 6 points, as it was this week. If you were to create a 95% confidence interval around the individual 2016 and 2020 polls, the 2016 race was about 1.5 times as volatile up to this point.

But it’s not just the margin that is important to examine. Look at the vote percentages.

The reason Biden’s lead is so wide compared to Clinton’s is that he’s running a little more than 5 points ahead of where Clinton was in terms of vote percentage. Biden is at slightly greater than 48%, while Clinton was a little less than 43%.

Even when Clinton’s lead widened in June, she never got to 48% in the polls. She had to pick up a lot more late-deciding voters for her lead to feel secure than Biden will likely need to.”

2020 is not 2016. Biden is not Clinton. And the differences between the two situations and candidates mostly help the Democrats. This is worth keeping in mind the next time you hear “But 2016!”


Teixeira: Trump’s Swing State Blues

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

Below I show the results (for the 20 most competitive states) of G. Elliott Morris’ “toy model” that integrates national and state polling with some regression analysis to give an idea of how the election is shaping up in each state in the country.

As you can see, the model implies that Trump is in deep trouble, behind in enough states to give Biden an easy win with other states like GA, OH, IA and TX either tied or very close.

Evan Scrimshaw of Decision Desk HQ reviews the latest data and sees the same kind of electoral landscape. His assessment of Trump’s troubles vis a vis Biden I largely agree with and I’ll quote it here.

“The Democrats have the upper hand across enough states to comfortably win the Electoral College, and the Midwest would be back to Obama 2012 levels of relative partisanship. For Joe Biden to be able to pull this off is a testament to his specific popularity with voters who don’t have a degree, and a sign that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was a specific turnoff for those voters who populate the legion of counties and Congressional Districts that flipped from Obama to Trump. It makes sense why that would be, too – her campaign was frequently about social issues which mattered to young progressives but not to the overwhelmingly older constituency who don’t have degrees. Biden, in contrast, is running a tight ship where he says little and doesn’t allow himself to take too many questions where troubling issues can come up. As of now, it’s working, with Quinnipiac polling this week showing Biden up 10% with seniors and 11% Nationally. For Trump, those numbers need to start reversing fast.

If Trump can’t eat into Biden’s lead with older voters and can’t stretch his non-college white lead back to Clinton levels, it’s over. Older people vote, and the suburban voters who broke for Trump in 2016 because they disliked both candidates aren’t coming back. Trump was able to squeeze out his narrow win because he got more Obama-Trump voters in exurbia than Hillary got Romney-Clinton voters in suburbia, and right now that trick isn’t repeating itself. He’s bleeding Obama-Trump voters back to Biden while the slow march of Romney voters in the suburbs continues unabated.

The President is now more than one usual polling error away from re-election, meaning he needs to do some work just to get back to the 30-70 underdog Nate Silver had him at in 2016. Even if the LeanTossup Presidential Model is aggressive in some states, namely Texas and Georgia, Trump is still in a very real mess in the upper Midwest, North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona. It’s hard to see the strategy that can flip back suburban Maricopa County, Arizona while not costing the President his huge margins in rural Wisconsin or southwest Pennsylvania. If he goes in on the culture wars, he may claw back non-degree holders with socially conservative views in some areas, but that won’t solve the problems in the suburbs of Phoenix and Atlanta. Go in on a tax cut for the well off and you give up a lot of your claim to be a different Republican who cares for real America.”