washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Vote Blue! No Matter Who.

VOTE BLUE.

No matter who.

“Vote Blue, No Matter Who” do-it-yourself t-shirts and bumper stickers–just call your local, unionized print shop and ask for an estimate. They can contact editors@thedemocraticstrategist.org for the artwork.

Vote Blue No Matter Who bumper sticker

Vote Blue!

No Matter Who!

“Vote Blue, No Matter Who” do-it-yourself t-shirts and bumper stickers–just call your local, unionized print shop and ask for an estimate. They can contact editors@thedemocraticstrategist.org for the artwork.

Vote Blue! No Matter Who.

VOTE BLUE!

No Matter Who.

“Vote Blue, No Matter Who” do-it-yourself t-shirts and bumper stickers–just call your local, unionized print shop and ask for an estimate. They can contact editors@thedemocraticstrategist.org for the artwork.

Vote Blue No Matter Who bumper sticker

Vote Blue

No matter who.

“Vote Blue, No Matter Who” do-it-yourself t-shirts and bumper stickers–just call your local, unionized print shop and ask for an estimate. They can contact editors@thedemocraticstrategist.org for the artwork.

RIP GOP book by Stanley Greenberg

R.I.P. G.O.P.

You can find out more about the return to progressive politics from our founder Stanley Greenberg in his new book!

Pre-Order Now.

The Daily Strategist

November 14, 2019

Teixeira: On the Other Hand, Trump Is Definitely in Serious Trouble, Perhaps Most Importantly with White Noncollege Women

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

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. The key demographic in the 2020 election is likely to be white noncollege women. If Trump loses enough support among this group, he’s done.

More evidence for this comes from the latest Democracy Corps/Voter Participation Center survey. This phone/web survey was conducted in what they refer to as the Presidential/Senate battleground, which includes these 17 states, divided into four regions:

Northeast (ME, NH, PA),
Midwest (IA, MI, MN, OH, WI)
South (FL, GA, NC, VA)
West (AZ, CO, NM, NV, TX)

For those keeping score, these are the 15 states I covered in my recent report on The Path to 270 in 2020 plus New Hampshire and Maine.

Even correcting for the perhaps excessive optimism that at times creeps into the memo on the survey, the quantitative findings are impressive and don’t strike me as outliers compared to other polls. Both the memo and accompanying slide show are worth looking at but I want to focus here on the striking findings on white noncollege women.

“Trump’s weakened position is led first and foremost by the white working class women who form nearly a quarter of the electorate and over half the white working class. Nationally, it was white working class women and men who shifted the most in the high turnout 2018 mid-terms (13 and 14 points, respectively). It was news when our combined data for the summer of 2019 showed both Biden and Warren bringing the Trump margin down to about 10 points.

But this poll in the presidential and Senate battleground shows both Biden and Warren running even with the white working class women (see chart below)— which would be historic, indeed, wiping out Trump’s 2016 margin of 27 points with them.

Both candidates are losing among white working class men by a stunning 32 points, but that is roughly the same as in 2018. Trump has not regained his 2016 position with the white working class men where he won by 48 points. Here, Democrats have gone from losing by more than 3- to-1 to 2-to-1. There is no evidence that Trump’s attempts to rally the base are working, at least with the men, and indeed, may be pushing the women away.”

Trust me. If this pans out, it’s big.


Teixeira: Is Trump Doomed? Probably Not

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

Is Trump Doomed? Probably Not.

EJ Dionne uses his latest column in the Washington Post to tackle this issue, in the process discussing the implications of my latest report.

“The situation Democrats face is…more treacherous than they might want to believe, given that a flailing Trump seems to be losing the messaging war on impeachment rather badly. Yes, the public seems ready to throw Trump out of office. But will Democrats make that easy or hard?

A report released last week by the Center for American Progress sheds important light on the party’s choices. One of its key findings will cheer Trump’s foes: If every demographic group votes as it did in 2016, Trump will lose the popular vote by an even greater margin than he did last time and fall short in the three states that put him over the top: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Why? Because, write Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin, the study’s authors, “the nonwhite share of the eligible electorate will increase by 2 percentage points, almost entirely from increases in the shares of Hispanics, Asians, and voters of other races. That will be balanced by a commensurate decrease in the share of white noncollege eligible voters.”

But Democrats should not think that victory is already in the bank. The electoral college decides who is president, and Teixeira and Halpin note that these demographic shifts alone would produce only very narrow margins in the three key states. If Democrats fail to convert some of Trump’s voters or increase turnout among the faithful, the party’s candidate would still be at risk.

“Whoever the Democratic nominee is,” Teixeira said in an interview, “he or she must do two things above all: reach out to the white working class and increase black turnout.”….

As for Trump, Teixeira sees his most promising path to reelection as “increasing his share of the white ­working-class vote and also increasing turnout in this group,” while holding down his losses among the white ­college-educated.

So if Trump’s approach to impeachment seems undisciplined, its main purpose is to incite rage, energy and thus turnout among those who put him in the White House in the first place — Republican base voters plus white working-class swing voters. “Is his strategy working?” Teixeira asked. “Probably not. But there may be method in his madness.”

Which is why Trump’s madness will continue. Democrats cannot afford to assume that this alone will doom him.”

No they cannot. And if they do, they may well live to regret their complacency.


Political Strategy Notes

Chris Cillizza reports at CNN politics that, according to a new Quinnipiac poll, “Asked whether the “Democratic Party has moved too far to the left, too far to the right, or would you say the Democratic Party hasn’t moved too far in either direction”, nearly half — 47%! — of respondents say that the party has moved too far left. Asked hat same question of the Republican Party and just 37% say it has moved too far right…Almost 6 in 10 men (57%) say Democrats have moved too far left as do 55% of whites with a college degree. Whites, generally speaking, are much more likely to say the party has moved too far left (53%) as compared to Hispanics (33%) and blacks (17%).”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes, “A report released last week by the Center for American Progress sheds important light on the party’s choices. One of its key findings will cheer Trump’s foes: If every demographic group votes as it did in 2016, Trump will lose the popular vote by an even greater margin than he did last timeand fall short in the three states that put him over the top: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin…Why? Because, write Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin, the study’s authors, “the nonwhite share of the eligible electorate will increase by 2 percentage points, almost entirely from increases in the shares of Hispanics, Asians, and voters of other races. That will be balanced by a commensurate decrease in the share of white noncollege eligible voters…But Democrats should not think that victory is already in the bank. The electoral college decides who is president, and Teixeira and Halpin note that these demographic shifts alone would produce only very narrow margins in the three key states. If Democrats fail to convert some of Trump’s voters or increase turnout among the faithful, the party’s candidate would still be at risk…“Whoever the Democratic nominee is,” Teixeira said in an interview, “he or she must do two things above all: reach out to the white working class and increase black turnout.”

Julia Azari, author of “Delivering the People’s Message: The Changing Politics of the Presidential Mandate,” writes at FiveThirtyEight that “ultimately, as history shows us, a big or fragmented Democratic field doesn’t carry real general election risks. A large and unwieldy primary field can produce an unexpected nominee, but it doesn’t mean a party can’t or won’t rally behind a candidate by the time of the general election…Granted, we can’t be totally sure of the effects of a field this large. But I’d argue that a primary as competitive as the current one can be better for the party than artificial unity (even if 12-candidate debates are a bit exhausting). The primary thus far has helped to clarify what those factions actually are — and what they’re not. It tells voters important things about the state of politics in the party, including divisions over policy solutions and among different demographics. It also illustrates the challenges faced by parties trying to resolve these issues and highlights the fact that democracy, even within parties, is difficult and often full of disagreement. All that said, having 10 or two candidates in the race by the Iowa caucuses should have little bearing on whether Democrats are competitive in 2020.”

In her Cook Political Report post, “Can Warren Beat Trump?“, Amy Walter pinpoints some of the likely problems Warren’s nomination would entail: “Warren will want to go toe-to-toe with Trump on economic inequality and corporate corruption. Trump wants the fight to be about ‘open borders’ and ‘socialism’ and ‘gun grabbing.’ Remember how effectively Trump lambasted Hillary Clinton for saying she wanted to put “a lot of coal mines and coal miners” out of business? Just imagine how Warren’s call to “ban all fracking” is going to play in western Pennsylvania…The other big question mark hanging over all of this analysis is for where Trump sits in November 2020. The closer he is to the low-end of his approval rating trading range (35-40 percent), the easier it is to make the case that almost any Democrat can win. The closer he is to the higher end (43-46 percent), the stronger the case for Trump. Warren becomes more of a risk the less-risky he looks. At this point, however, from his rage tweets over impeachment, to his disjointed policy on Syria, to his ill-advised decision to try and host an international conference at his own hotel, President Trump is doing everything possible to look like the more dangerous pick.”

Also at CNN Politics, Harry Enten reports that “Impeachment isn’t popular in Wisconsin and these 5 other key swing states,” and notes, “In the context of the 2020 presidential election, we need to be looking to swing state polling to see how impeachment may play out on the campaign trail. The polls indicate that impeaching and removing Trump in these pivotal states is far from a slam dunk…Indeed, take an examination of the battleground states that Democrats almost certainly need to make inroads into in 2020. The New York Times and Siena College, 2018’s most accurate pollster, took a poll of voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Arizona. These were closest states in the country that cast their electoral votes for Trump in 2016…Just 43% of voters in these six states want to impeach and remove from office at this point. The majority, 53%, do not. This means that the margin for not impeaching and removing Trump in these states (+10 points) is running well ahead of Trump’s margin in these states of about 1.5 points. Put another way, impeaching and removing Trump from office in these states is not a popular position.”

From “‘Digital is the testbed’: Why the 2020 election is focused on online advertising” by Kristina Monllos at Digiday.com:  “What we’re seeing now is that digital is the testbed, the momentum-gatherer for these candidates and these campaign platforms,” said Alex Funk, vp of strategic development at 3Q Digital. “We’re going to see a lot more TV as we get closer, but until then, digital strategists will have candidates diversify across a number of different platforms.”…The digital ads serve as a quick and relatively cheap way for candidates to test out campaign messages, platforms and even a myriad of creative executions for those ads to see what works and what doesn’t. The feedback from voters online from those digital ads can then be used to craft the television campaigns, which typically flood the airwaves six to eight weeks before Election Day, and even help presidential hopefuls figure out where they need to spend more time with voters…“It’s a data capture game,” said Nick Venezia, managing director of Social Outlier, a digital shop that has worked on digital advertising for political campaigns. “You have to start telling a story with messaging people can get behind now so that people will buy it later.”…Overall, Kantar predicts that $6 billion will be spent on paid advertising during the 2020 election, with 20% or $1.2 billion going to digital, 53% or 3.2 billion going to broadcast television and 20% or $1.2 billion going to cable television. All told, television will account for 73% of the political ad spending in 2020 versus the 20% expected on digital, per Kantar.”

Are Blue-Collar White Women Trump’s Red Wall?,” asks Anne Kim at The Washington Monthly. Kim writes, “While Democrats made crucial gains among these voters in the 2018 election, these women may now be rallying to Trump’s defense…Opinion polls have shown increased momentum toward impeachment since evidence came to light that Trump pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Biden family. As of October 21, Real Clear Politics’ average found that 51.0 percent of Americans support an inquiry, whereas 42.8 percent are opposed. Among blue collar white women, however sentiment is moving in the opposite direction, according to Trendency Research, which maintains a longitudinal panel of more than 1,000 Americans polled daily…As of October 21, Trendency found that a solid majority (54 percent) of non-college-educated white women either outright oppose or lean against impeachment, while just 37 percent strongly support it. In fact, blue-collar white women are the strongest opponents of impeachment among all white voters (see chart below). This opposition is in stark contrast to college-educated white women, among whom only 26 percent indicated “no support” for impeachment as of October 21.” However, notes Kim, “Blue-collar white men, in contrast, have swung dramatically in favor of impeaching Trump. While just 26 percent of blue-collar white men showed “strong” support for impeachment as of September 28—with 59 percent who outright opposed—40 percent of these men now strongly support impeachment as of October 21 and a minority of 47 percent now oppose it.”

Kim continues, “By sheer numbers, blue-collar white women are the nation’s biggest voting bloc.  According to Democratic political research firm Catalist, non-college-educated white women made up 25 percent of voters in 2018 and 26 percent of voters in 2016. These women outnumber both non-college white men, who accounted for 22 percent of the 2018 voters, and college-educated white women, who comprised just 15 percent of the 2018 electorate…Luckily for Democrats, blue-collar white women are still a potentially winnable group. Catalist’s analysis, for instance, found that while Democratic candidates lost among both blue collar men and women in 2018, the margin of defeat among non-college-educated white women was half that among non-college-educated white men. (Democrats lost by 36 points among blue-collar white men and 18 points among blue-collar white women.)…These women have also shown more willingness to cross the aisle. Although college-educated suburban white women won much of the credit for delivering House Democrats a majority in 2018, blue-collar white women have shown some shifting allegiances, even if not of the same magnitude. Democrats’ performance with them in 2018 was still a three-point improvement over 2016, according to Catalist. (By comparison, Democrats gained 11 points among college-educated white women, solidifying their new status as a core constituency of the party.)

Kim concludes, “All of these findings, however, predate the inquiry into Trump’s impeachment. The question now is whether the specter of impeachment has catalyzed renewed support among blue-collar white women for the president and erased the gains from the 2018 election…For Democrats, regaining their toehold among these voters means two things. First, and most significantly, it means investing more resources in understanding what’s happening with blue-collar white women—and why. Democrats cannot afford to overlook this vital constituency; they should neither write them off, nor take them for granted.  Second, Democrats should continue to push their message on health care and other kitchen-table issues that matter to all voters. The party leadership’s current instincts are correct that impeachment should not overtake the entirety of the political conversation through next fall…Ultimately, though, Democrats can’t view this challenge as a test of Trump’s resiliency with the white working-class voters that comprise so much of his base. Rather, Democrats have to see it as a test of whether they can devise a durable economic message that outweighs Trumpism’s appeal and unites women across all socioeconomic lines. It’s a challenge they should tackle now, before it’s too late.”


Teixeira: Trump Has No Room for Error

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

Ron Brownstein has just published an excellent analysis on the Atlantic site based on my new Path to 270 in 2020 report. If you can’t read my report, at least read this article! Brownstein:

“The risk in Donald Trump’s base-first electoral strategy is only rising—because the size of his base is shrinking.

Working-class whites are on track to continue declining as a share of eligible voters in 2020, according to a study released today by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress. In turn, two groups much more resistant to Trump will keep growing: Nonwhite voters will swell substantially, while college-educated white voters will modestly increase.

These shifts in the electorate’s composition may seem small, but they could have big implications next year. The report projects that these demographic changes alone could provide Democrats a slim Electoral College majority by reversing Trump’s narrow victories in the three blue-wall states that keyed his 2016 victory: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Indeed, the shifts could be enough to narrowly tip these states back toward the Democrats even if college- and non-college-educated whites and minorities behave exactly as they did in 2016—if their turnout rates stay the same and if they split their votes between Trump and the Democratic nominee in exactly the same proportions as they did then.

And, if all other voting patterns hold equal, these changes alone could add another percentage point to the Democratic nominee’s margin of victory in the national popular vote, giving that candidate an advantage over Trump of more than 3 points. All told, the study, provided exclusively to The Atlantic, underscores how narrow a pathway the president is following headed into 2020.

If Democrats “are relying on demographic change to win, you are praying nothing else will change, and you are hoping to squeak out a victory by the tiniest margins,” Teixeira says. But it is a “bonus” for Democrats, he explains: “Even if [Trump] accomplished exactly what he did in 2016, he would probably lose the election. So he not only has to do that; he has to try to do more.”….

Given the resistance Trump has faced from minorities and college-educated whites, especially women, the report’s findings highlight how much he will depend next year on maximizing both turnout and his margins among white voters without a college degree. Yet both goals could prove challenging. Though Trump remains extremely popular with non-college-educated white men, an array of polls shows him suffering erosion among white women without a college degree, a group that notably moved away from the GOP in 2018.

And even if Trump, as he’s shown the capacity to do, can further juice turnout among non-college-educated whites, especially outside of urban areas, those gains could be offset by higher engagement among the groups that are growing in the electorate. That’s what happened last year: Working-class whites turned out at elevated levels for the midterms, but that increase was swamped by a spike in participation among college-educated whites and minorities. As a result, blue-collar whites plummeted by 4 percentage points as a share of the total vote compared with the 2014 midterms, according to calculations by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist who specializes in voting behavior. That’s an unusually large decline.

Something like that could happen again in 2020, Teixeira notes. “They can shrink [more] if everyone else comes out—that is the nature of the beast,” Teixeira says. “This is part and parcel of the challenge that Trump will face. He is utterly dependent on this group, but he can’t really stop their ongoing decline as a share of voters … In a high-turnout election, things may turn out even worse” for them, given the growth among other demographic groups.

The report makes clear that Trump could again manage a narrow Electoral College win, even if he loses the popular vote. (Teixeira believes that the demographic trends virtually ensure he won’t win the most voters overall.) Non-college-educated whites, even after their expected decline, will still represent a much larger share of the total vote in the key Rust Belt battlegrounds than they do nationally. And in many of the Sun Belt battlegrounds, Democrats have struggled to turn out growing minority populations, failed to match their gains elsewhere among college-educated whites, or both. The strong economy might also allow Trump to suppress defections among college-educated white men and possibly make some gains among black and Latino men.

Taken together, these factors could mean, as I wrote on Election Day in 2016, that the Democratic coalition in the Rust Belt again crumbles faster than it coalesces in the Sun Belt, allowing Trump to break through to another win. But the study also pinpoints the inexorable math pressing on Trump’s exclusionary vision for the GOP: His most likely path to a second term will require him to squeeze even bigger advantages out of dwindling groups.

Trump’s incendiary populism has been unable to reverse the tides of demographic change that, like an ocean encroaching on a beach, are diminishing the constituencies most drawn to him. And that unstinting current of change leaves him with even less margin for error in 2020 than in 2016.”


Please, Ms. Clinton, Scotch This HRC 2020 Talk

Like a bad penny, the bad idea of Hillary Clinton running for president again next year keeps coming up, mostly thanks to Republican trolling, But only HRC can bring this speculation to an end, as I asked her to do at New York:

[T]he preposterous idea of Hillary Clinton seeking a rematch with Donald Trump in 2020 has mostly been a right-wing fantasy projection from people who loved the idea of beating her again (and perhaps imprisoning her in the bargain), wanted an excuse to continue their ludicrous conspiracy theories about her, or simply wanted to troll Democrats. Yes, once-upon-a-time Clinton adviser Mark Penn traded on his lost relationship with her to titillate his new conservative friends with HRC 2020 talk last year, but nobody should have taken his bad-faith word seriously. And nearly a year ago, one genuine Clinton intimate, Philippe Reines, let it be known that while it was very unlikely, there was a remote chance she might be interested in a comeback:

‘When pressed on whether she’s running, Reines told Politico: ‘It’s somewhere between highly unlikely and zero, but it’s not zero.'”

Earlier this month HRC’s name started coming up again in conjunction with probably exaggerated reports of big-money donor panic over the weak “centrist” bench in the Democratic presidential field. But the Washington Post reported that “according to two people close to her, [HRC] has not ruled out jumping in herself, a sign that she is hearing similar dissatisfaction.”

And now, in a move designed to make sure conservatives don’t forget their own HRC 2020 dream world, Reines did something to keep the speculation alive:

Now as I’ve said before, Hillary Clinton’s service to her country and her party mean she is entitled to say and do any damn thing she wants with her life and career going forward. But she of all people should grasp how very bad an idea this is, and scotch it once and for all. Yes, it’s understandable that she would want to “redo” that disastrous 2016 campaign. But that is precisely what Democrats from every faction of the party and every perspective on politics do not want to do.

In no small part that’s because we may never completely figure out how and why the Bad Man did the Bad Things and won anyway. There are so many theories, ranging from Russian interference to post-Obama racism to financial and mechanical mistakes by the Clinton campaign to her long exposure as an “Establishment” figure to revenge by the Bernie people. Personally, I think sheer complacency and protest voting (and nonvoting) by people who couldn’t imagine a monstrous figure like Trump winning were the X factor. But the fact remains that HRC cannot go back and fix one thing and make the nightmare go away, for her, for Democrats, or for America. So clearly someone else needs to pick up the banner and keep the next four years from being like the years we are living through right now.

Panicky donor whining notwithstanding, Democrats have a record number of options for doing just that. They offer a wide range of policy views, records, theories of change, personalities and identities. And while one may worry about this or that candidate underperforming during the “invisible primary,” nobody still in the race has been eliminated yet. All the leading Democratic candidates are routinely trouncing Trump in general-election trial heats; his job approval rating is perpetually stalled in an area that usually means defeat; and half the electorate wants to run him out of Washington without even waiting for the opportunity to eject him at the polls. Why are any Democrats in the sort of despair that might support a recourse to HRC?

It’s far too early for panic, but it’s probably not too early to conclude that the current field isn’t going to be displaced by some late entry. How, exactly, is Hillary Clinton supposed to win the nomination? Will she rebuild an Iowa organization even though all her old staff and supporters have moved on to other candidacies? Can she push aside Joe Biden? Would supporters of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders really look to her for inspiration and salvation? Perhaps the idea is that the convention in Milwaukee will be deadlocked and will then turn to the 2016 nominee. How likely is that, as opposed to a coalition ticket? And if a retread somehow seems appropriate, why not John Kerry, who also narrowly lost but did not lose to Donald J. Trump?

Please, Ms. Clinton, don’t keep this right-wing fantasy in play, and don’t make admirers (like me) have to keep reciting the reasons you should not run for president in 2020. If you want to have an impact, endorse someone who is already running, or help the party in other ways. You’d done what you can to expose the terrible future Trump represents for America and its most vulnerable people. Let someone else change that future for good.


Political Strategy Notes

In his column, “The Trade War’s Risks for Trump: Agriculture and manufacturing are significant industries in 2020’s most important states,” Louis Jacobson writes at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “President Donald Trump has taken a hard line on trade. He’s imposed tariffs on steel, aluminum, and on a wide variety of Chinese products. In response, China has slapped tariffs on American products…If Trump’s trade strategy poses risks for the economy, it also poses risks for his reelection strategy. That’s because farmers and manufacturers in battleground states are facing retaliatory tariffs on their products…To measure Trump’s degree of risk, we analyzed 14 battleground states — 10 of them won by Trump in 2016 and four won by Hillary Clinton. (We ignored Nebraska’s competitive 2nd congressional district, and we looked only at Maine’s statewide electoral votes, not its competitive 2nd district. Both states allocate a portion of their electoral votes by congressional district.)…Trump won seven of them in 2016, making the core of his Electoral College majority at special risk from fallout from tariffs. Especially notable is the inclusion on this list of the three narrowly divided states that made his victory possible: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin…Depressed turnout among disaffected farm and factory voters might be more likely than actually switching rural and blue-collar Republicans to support whoever the Democratic nominee is…Craig Gilbert, a political journalist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has reported extensively from the swing rural areas of western and southwestern Wisconsin. He said he hasn’t encountered any sign of mass defections from the historically strong levels of Trump support in 2016, but he added that it remains an open question whether more modest shifts could occur…Bottom line: Trump’s trade policy could weaken his support in key states, but for now at least, there’s little evidence of widespread damage to Trump’s standing among the farm and factory demographics. Until further notice, cultural issues appear to be taking prominence over economic ones.”

Charlie Cook writes in The Cook Political Report that “In a tough Oct. 16 piece in The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein cites a study by the center-left Urban Institute, which notes that a plan like those favored by Warren or Bernie Sanders “would require $34 trillion in additional federal spending over its first decade in operation. That’s more than the federal government’s total cost over the coming decade for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid combined, according to the most recent Congressional Budget Office projections.”…Brownstein goes on to point out: “In recent history, only during the height of World War II has the federal government tried to increase taxes, as a share of the economy, as fast as would be required to offset the cost of a single-payer plan.” Syracuse University professor and Clinton administration alumnus Leonard Burman adds that there are “no analogous peacetime tax increases.” Selling such a plan, he argues, “is theoretically possible,” but “the revolution that would come along with it would get in the way.”

“This is where the rubber meets to road in terms of electability,” Cook continues. “There is not any question that Warren is the most talented campaigner in the Democratic race today, and perhaps in Democratic politics altogether. She’s also put together a world-class campaign organization. But all of that may not be able to withstand the questions and attacks on some of her proposals. Apart from her health plan, there are real questions about whether her wealth tax would generate the $1.75 trillion in revenue over 10 years needed to fund her agenda—one that makes Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal look somewhat modest…This is not to say that Warren can’t win the Democratic nomination. Today she would certainly be favored to win both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, but history shows that winning one or both is not tantamount to winning the nomination. Since 1972, every eventual Democratic nominee has come in first, second, or third in Iowa and either first or second in New Hampshire. The other co-front-runner, Joe Biden, could simply place or show in Iowa and place second in New Hampshire, biding his time until the primaries and caucuses move South and West—territory where polls show Biden does much better.”

Emily Stewart outs “The Wall Streeters who actually like Elizabeth Warren” at Vox: “On Wall Street, there are rich guys, and then there are very rich guys. And in the first camp, there are a surprising number who think an Elizabeth Warren presidency would not be the apocalypse…Some in the industry believe that the excesses of the financial system continue to be a problem in the wake of the Great Recession and that corporate concentration, wealth inequality, and lax regulation are still issues that need addressing. Do they think she’s 100 percent right on everything? No. But they know she’s smart, and they think she’s approaching policy with a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. They believe Warren when she says she is a capitalist and are on board with her brand of capitalism…“Even though, on a personal basis, Elizabeth Warren may be bad for me economically, she would be better for society, which I want my kids to grow up in,” a director at Citi told me…“I might not always agree with every move that she makes, but it would be hard to argue that she hasn’t done her homework on it,” said Charlie O’Donnell, a venture capitalist at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures…“Customers need protection. Corporations have so much at their disposal and an individual customer has nothing,” said a portfolio manager in the credit card division of a major bank.”

Stewart adds, “Supporters also trust her in the event of a potential recession. They see her as an experienced economic hand who would seek to spend more money at the lower ends of the economic spectrum rather than at the top, and they assume the deficit is going to continue to balloon whoever the next president is, Republican or Democrat. “At the macro level, the redistribution of wealth back into consumer’s pockets will positively impact equity markets,” said a State Street vice president. “It’s just what side of the ledger you want to look at.”…Warren may not be the most popular candidate on Wall Street, but she’s not the least popular one, either; it’s not as though the financial industry is immune to her rise in the polls. And her supporters acknowledge that while not everyone in their field will agree with them, they want them to give her a chance…They believe that if people sit down and actually look at her policies, they will see she’s not going to turn the United States into Venezuela. The big structural change she’s talking about, they think is a good thing. And presidents don’t get everything — or often most things — on their agendas done. They’re not scared, and they don’t think others in their position should be scared.”

Despite all of the favorable buzz about Warren, however, Jennfer Agiesta reports at CNN Politics that “Former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead in the race for the Democratic nomination for president has rebounded, and now stands at its widest margin since April, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS…Biden has the support of 34% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters, his best showing in CNN polling since just after his campaign’s formal launch on April 25…Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont are about even for second, with 19% and 16%, respectively. Behind them, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris of California each have 6% support, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke each at 3%…Biden has seen big spikes in support among moderate and conservative Democrats (43% support him now, up from 29% in the September poll), racial and ethnic minorities (from 28% among all nonwhites in September to 42% now) and older voters (up 13 points since September among those 45 and older) that outpace those among younger potential Democratic voters (up 5 points among those younger than 45).”

Also at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Seth Moskowitz has an interesting warning for Democrats in his post, “Up-Ballot Effects: Expanding the Electoral College Battleground: “A presidential campaign strategy narrowly focused on Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan might work for the Electoral College but could hurt a candidate’s party in down-ballot Senate and House races…Senate and House battlegrounds are scattered across the Rust Belt and Sun Belt, which could incentivize presidential candidates to compete in states that they otherwise may have overlooked…Both presidential campaigns will have plenty of money, allowing them to invest in lower priority states with the dual purpose of trying to win longshot Electoral College votes and helping Senate and House candidates down-ballot…To help their respective parties down-ballot, presidential campaigns will need to appeal to a broad demographic of voters including white non-college voters in the Rust Belt and diverse, college-educated voters in the Sun Belt and suburban House districts across the country…The Republican and Democratic presidential nominees may not take these down-ballot incentives into account in their campaign strategies. But they do so at the risk of winning the presidency while failing to construct a governing majority. This prospect of a stalled legislative agenda, executive branch investigations, and unfilled court vacancies should drive the presidential campaigns to a down-ballot, party-centric strategy that expands the Electoral College battleground.”

Nathaniel Rakich notes at FiveThirtyEight, “Over the course of the entire 2016 presidential election, TV ad spending approached a whopping $761 million, with more than 920,000 spots flickering across the airwaves. But that might be nothing compared to what we see in 2020. Thanks to Tom Steyer, who is pouring an enormous amount of money into TV ad buys, we are already ahead of 2016’s pace…Using data from Kantar/Campaign Media Analysis Group, we can compare the pace of TV ad spending so far in 2019 with the same point in 2015. And so far, the 2020 campaign has seen more than twice as many television ad spots as the 2016 race. From January 1 through October 20, 2019, campaigns and outside groups spent an estimated $33.3 million on 76,030 television ad spots for the 2020 presidential election. By contrast, through the week of Oct. 18, 2015, campaigns and outside groups had aired only 32,191 TV spots — despite spending more money than they have so far this year ($43.1 million compared with $33.3 million).”

At Democracy – A Journal of Ideras, John Halpin and Brian Katulis illuminate a foreign policy approach that could win support for Democrats; “Donald Trump is the ultimate unilateralist, and not a particularly talented one. He undermines and demeans close allies. He pulls out of treaties and international accords designed to advance our own security and economic interests. He ignores global organizations like the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, and instead seeks ways to work around these institutions to pursue a constantly shifting set of foreign policy impulses. His top advisers operate under the same assumptions as Trump in pursuit of a “go it alone” approach that is getting increasingly dangerous and risky…During that time, the right has hammered Democrats for being soft on national security and bending to the will of the rest of the world. “America First” vs. “soulless globalism” remains the central frame of the Trump argument about the world. Progressives have been too timid in their own defense—crouched in a tactical posture, allowing Trump and his allies to set the terms of the foreign policy debate when it comes to multilateralism…This is exactly the wrong approach. Our recent research into American attitudes on foreign policy, building on our earlier opinion project from January to March 2019, and as outlined in the report entitled “America Adrift,” finds that majorities of voters want multilateralism…Plain and simple—Trump’s unilateralist approach is deeply unpopular outside of his core base. Democrats should lean into arguments about working with other countries and institutions in the world with no apologies.”


“Populist” Senator Launches Hypocritical Attack on Journalist

I’m passing along most of this piece I wrote for New York because it involves the common GOP tactic of geographical stereotyping, as deployed by a young pol thought by many to represent the future of right-wing “populism.”

Before U.S. senator Josh Hawley took exception to something he wrote and called him a “smug, rich liberal elitist” who expressed “open contempt for the people of the heartland and all we love,” I knew nothing about my friend Greg Sargent’s socioeconomic background…. As Greg explained by way of setting Hawley straight, he’s a middle-class guy educated in public schools who happens to have grown up — yes, he pleads guilty — near a coast. And he rightly accuses Hawley of deploying a phony sort of populism to make his own narrow views seem mainstream:

“[A]s Will Wilkinson notes, Hawley’s ‘great American middle’ is in reality code, an effort to recast the minoritarian America of ‘nonurban whites’ who fundamentally reject this country’s ‘multiracial, multicultural national character’ as the American mainstream.

“This ‘great American middle’ apparently does not include the large majorities who hold allegedly ‘elite’ positions such as favoring the legalization of millions of undocumented immigrants and opposing further immigration restrictions.”

Now, I wouldn’t have paid much attention to the effort to smear Greg if it had emanated from some Trumpian organ-grinder or a backbench Republican in Congress. But Josh Hawley is one scary dude who could become our ruler one of these days. Much celebrated for his “populist” attacks on rich corrupters of the traditional family, Hawley is the new face of a very old (and not very American) form of reactionary culture-war politics, as I noted a while back:

“Government-sanctioned culture war against private entities like those which control Hollywood and Silicon Valley is indeed a departure from traditional American conservatism. But it’s entirely consonant with a European brand of right-wing authoritarianism that drew on precapitalist strains of religion-based hostility to liberalism in economics as in culture, and contemptuously rejected modern liberal democracy while utilizing its institutions to seize power whenever possible. What makes Hawley fascinating and scary is how systematically he embraces this illiberal world view.”

Beyond that, Hawley doesn’t exactly have much standing to label other people as “elitist,” as an admiring profile in National Review explains. The son of a banker, the future senator attended an elite Jesuit prep school before matriculating at those well-known heartland universities Stanford and Yale, and then rising quickly through the top crust of legal apprenticeships, including a stint as a clerk to John Roberts. His heroes were not exactly the horny-handed sons of toil:

“One summer, Hawley interned at the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank. He worked for Matthew Spalding, a scholar of the Constitution. ‘He asked me who I most wanted to meet in Washington, D.C.,’ recalls Hawley. ‘I said, “George Will.” He told me to write a letter. So I did.’ Will wrote back and the two met for lunch. They also stayed in touch.”

And you know what? That’s fine with me, so long as Hawley doesn’t pretend to be some sort of prairie avenger who learned to read by candlelight. Before going after Greg, he should have reflected on the words of a certain man he is said to worship (Matthew 7:3-5, King James Version):

“3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

“4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

“5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

Beyond hypocrisy, Hawley, who is not a stupid man, is engaging in the kind of crude geographical and cultural stereotypes that ought to make him ashamed. A very wise man who represented a state adjoining Hawley’s in the U.S. Senate had this to say about that unfortunate and divisive tendency:

“The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States.”

All kinds of people live and work in all kinds of places, and demagogues who try to convince their constituents that Greg Sargent hates them and can’t understand them because of where he lives and works are deeply cynical. Josh Hawley isn’t what he superficially appears to be at this moment. Neither are most of us. I write for New York Magazine, live in Monterey County, California, and received an undergraduate degree from the near-Ivy private institution Emory University. Clearly, I’m a liberal coastal elitist who looks down on the sturdy heartland virtues of Josh Hawley’s Missouri. Except that I had never even met a private-school attendee before going to college on scholarships (and using savings as a janitor); speak in an accent not too far separated from Appalachia; go to church every Sunday; and spend every autumn Saturday watching college football and making barking noises when the Georgia Bulldogs are doing well. Offered a chance to take an extravagant vacation wherever I wanted on one of those big birthdays with a zero on the end, I chose the Iowa State Fair.

Like I said, people are complicated, and I hope I never judge Josh Hawley by anything other than his expressed views, which I find terrifying. But then again, Hawley is an ally and fan of the bully in the White House, the insanely rich and powerful “populist” who loves to intimidate journalists with threats that suggest roundups and reeducation camps. The junior senator from Missouri really needs to stop treating writers who disagree with him like future candidates for the knout and the rack. It’s Josh Hawley, not Greg Sargent, who holds power; he, not Greg, who’s The Man. He needs to read his Bible and learn some humility.

 


Meyerson: An Economic Case for Medicare for All

Harold Meyerson, editor at large of The American Prospect, has a post, “How Elizabeth Warren Can Address the Medicare for All Question,” which merits a read from those who want to make sure Dems have a credible consensus on health care reform when the 2020 election rolls around.

Meyerson notes that “Elizabeth Warren is now dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on her own Medicare for All plan, which she has pledged to release shortly. As David Dayen astutely notes today, the plans put forth by Warren’s and Bernie Sanders’s primary opponents—chiefly, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg—will, if they’re any good, end up costing about as much as the Medicare for All proposals they’ve disparaged.”

Meyerson emphasizes Warren’s point that “the great majority of Americans pay far more for their private insurance than they would in higher taxes, though what they pay now is largely concealed from them because their employer routinely takes it out of their pay.” The media could do a better job of addressing the issue with sound research. Medicare for All supporters need some better soundbites to make the case that their plan is economically sound.

Top poll analysts have noted that public support for ‘Medicare for All’ lags far behind support for ‘Medicare for all who want it.” Some of that skepticism is due to the way the poll questions are framed, some of it emanates from the difficulty of evaluating and explaining economic factors. But most of it comes from a public perception that freedom of choice is important for health care.

Meyerson asks, “How can Elizabeth Warren address the major savings workers can win by shifting to Medicare for All?” He shares this quote attributed to Steve Tarzynski, president of the California Physicians Alliance:

Right now, you and your family pay $18,000 a year in premiums for employer-sponsored insurance that doesn’t even cover everything and that you could lose at any time. Plus another $2,000 in deductibles before it even kicks in and another $1,000 in co-pays. That’s about $21,000 every year for a basically defective product. That’s the “private tax” you’re paying right now. And your choice of doctor is restricted and you can even lose access to your doctor at any time. All that would go away with Medicare for All—no more premiums, no more deductibles, and no more co-pays. And all the care you and your family need will be covered and can never be taken away. You can choose any doctor you want. Yes. You’ll pay $5,000 more in taxes for all of that. But it will put $16,000 back in your pocket. And it doesn’t even include the share of the premium that your employer pays now that you could get back in wages and salary. Would you settle for that?

That’s about as good a one-paragraph economic case for Medicare for All as can be made. The question is, can it be sold to the public during the next year? For high-information voters – those who seriously read and think about it with an open mind – maybe so. For low-information, time-challenged and otherwise distracted voters, probably not.

The Democratic presidential nominee should build a consensus between the two proposals that can unify Democrats and progressives, perhaps including incentives for private insurance policy-holders to buy in to Medicare. The idea is to win a healthy majority of voters who can say, “the Democrats’ health care reform plan doesn’t do everything I want, but it’s the best one out there.”


Teixeira: The Path to 270 in 2020

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

The Path to 270 in 2020!

It’s coming out this Thursday from CAP, authored by myself and my colleague John Halpin!

In the report we discuss in detail what the Democratic nominee, whoever he or she may, needs to do to put together the requisite 270 EVs, as well as what Trump needs to do to win a second term. Strictly objective and based on hard numbers, we look at the overall national picture and no fewer than 15 potential swing states, breaking down R and D objectives in each state. The states we cover are Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia, Something for everyone.

So look for it on Thursday. There will also be an Atlantic article by Ron Brownstein covering our report on the same day but I know you’re going to want to read the whole thing!

“Our analysis examines how a Democratic candidate and Republican incumbent Donald Trump might fare in terms of demographic and geographic support in 2020. It focuses on the electoral potential of the Democratic coalition using 2016 as a baseline, comparing that with the potential support for Trump in relation to his 2016 performance.

This much is clear: Despite demographic trends that continue to favor the Democrats, and Trump’s unpopularity among wide swathes of the electorate, it will still be difficult for the Democrats to prevail against an incumbent President who has presided over a growing, low-unemployment economy and retains strong loyalty among key sectors of the electorate. Conversely, Trump’s continuously high level of unpopularity does make him unusually vulnerable for an incumbent President. The question then becomes how, given the current political environment and structure of voter inclinations, each side can take advantage of their opportunities and reach 270 EVs.

We begin with a look at the broad 2020 national picture for both the popular vote and, most important, overall Electoral College vote results. We then proceed to a state-by-state breakdown of how a winning electoral vote coalition might be assembled by either side.”


Linkon and Russo: Trump’s Racism Empowered by his Middle, Upper Class Supporters

The following atricle by Sherry Linkon and John Russo of the Georgetown University Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor and co-authors of “Steeltown U.S.A.: Work and Memory in Youngstown,” is cross-posted from Working-Class Perspectives:

What do you picture when someone refers to the “Trump’s base”? If you’ve watched television coverage of his rallies or read any of the dozens of articles in which reporters and commentators try to explain Trump’s appeal, then you probably imagine white people wearing “MAGA” hats and t-shirts chanting “Lock her up” or “send her back” in an arena in a mid-size Midwestern or Southern city. You might assume they include laid-off industrial workers, residents of declining cities or rural areas who view immigrants as a threat, people who spend their weekends at gun shows, and uninsured people who resent the “government intrusion” of the Affordable Care Act.

This image might come to mind when you read that polls show support for Trump increasing when he tweets racist jibes at women of color in the U.S. Congress or calls a black Representative’s district a “rat and rodent infested mess.” While some shake their heads in frustration at these poor foolish dupes, some also feel some empathy. It isn’t their fault they were “left behind” by the global economy or laid low by the exploitations of the opioid scandal. They just aren’t smart enough to see that they’re being manipulated.

As several recent articles have pointed out, this story is wrong – though it’s probably reassuring to educated urban middle class and elites. It suggests that the problem with this country lies somewhere out there, among people who can easily be labelled as racist, xenophobic, homophobic, old-fashioned, and most important, working-class.