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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Seniors Against Trump

Who Are the Key Voters Turning Against Trump?

They’re senior voters, and they could be Joe Biden’s secret weapon.

By Ruy Teixeira in The New York Times
Read the Article.

Stan Greenberg in The American Prospect

The Tea Party’s Last Stand

The legions that swept over the Republican Party in 2010 aren’t ascendant today—and they’ve scared a lot of other Republicans away.


Read the Article.

Democrats – Get Ready for the Inevitable Republican Counterattack

It’s coming, and we should be prepared.
By Andrew Levison

Read the Strategy Memo.

Seniors Against Trump

Key Voters Turning Against Trump?

They’re senior voters, and they could be Joe Biden’s secret weapon.

By Ruy Teixeira in The New York Times
Read the Article.

Stan Greenberg in The American Prospect

Tea Party’s Last Stand

The legions that swept over the Republican Party in 2010 aren’t ascendant today—and they’ve scared a lot of other Republicans away.


Read the Article.

The Daily Strategist

August 4, 2020

Biden’s Latino Outreach in High Gear

Marc Caputo reports that “Biden makes sharp pivot toward Latino vote” at Politico, including “hiring a rash of Hispanic operatives, spending $1 million in Spanish-language outreach and, this week, signing one of the nation’s top pollsters in the field, Latino Decisions.” The rationale for the Democrat’s likely nominee includes:

A raft of recent general election polls shows Biden with a solid lead nationwide and in many battleground states. He’s already leading among Hispanic voters. But if Biden can get the same level of support and turnout as Hillary Clinton did in 2016 — while continuing to do better than she did among black and white voters — he’s all but guaranteed to win the crucial battlegrounds of Florida and Arizona, which would effectively deny President Trump a second term.

Caputo adds that Trump has a problematic record on issues of intense concern among Latinos, including “immigration, Puerto Rico, healthcare, coronavirus response and foreign policy” and “Democrats learned from Florida’s last election that failing to aggressively reach out to Latino voters cost them the governor’s office and the retention of a U.S. Senate seat.”

Caputo quotes Latino Decisions co-founder and pollster Matt Barreto, who advised Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign: “In 2018, some of the statewide campaigns in Florida did not have robust Latino engagement…Puerto Rican turnout in Central Florida was not robust.” Further, Caputo writes,

Biden’s campaign plans to harness the “incredible anger” among Puerto Rican voters in Florida over Trump’s handling of Hurricane Maria in 2017, Barreto says. And it sees an opening to increase support levels in border-state Arizona, where Latinos have “been deeply influenced by the immigrant rights movement, especially younger Latinos, and that is very bad news for Donald Trump. Already, 2018 demonstrated that heightened Latino turnout can flip the state, and with continued investment in Latino outreach, 2020 could follow the same path as 2018.”

The campaign, he said, is ready to “pivot in South Florida and have different messages on the diversity of the community there, whether you’re talking to the Cubans who were born in Cuba or born in the United States, South Americans … and engaging Latinos where they are and the issues that matters to them.”

Caputo notes that Biden has bulked up his outreach staff with media and GOTV pros, who have expertise in mobilizing Latino voters of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican and Central American heritage with nuanced messaging. Among the reasons thaat Biden’s expanded Latino outreach comes as a welcome, if overdue development, according to Caputo:

Trump has a cash advantage and he has been using it on TV — the president’s reelection campaign has spent nearly $1.2 million on Spanish-language TV ads in Arizona and Florida in the past three weeks, according to the Advertising Analytics tracking firm, which found that Biden’s campaign has spent less than $100,000 on TV in that time. Including Spanish-language radio spots and digital ads, the Biden campaign said it is on pace to spend $1 million in five weeks. An outside group, Nuestro PAC, is also giving Biden Spanish-language air-support.

While Arizona and Florida are seen as pivotal battleground states where the Latino vote can be decisive, Barreto notes that “North Carolina and Pennsylvania have large and growing Latino populations that could ultimately decide a very close election…Our research in these two states suggest over 70% of Latinos oppose Trump’s divisive rhetoric and see Biden as fighting for Latinos.”

Adrian Carrasquillo reports at Newsweek that A new poll by Voter Participation Center/Voto Latino of battleground states Arizona, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas “found that Latino voters continued to demonstrate lower enthusiasm for Biden’s candidacy, with a “somewhat low rate” of 59 percent of Latinos who said they intend to vote, compared with 73 percent of Latino registered voters who said they were certain to vote in February. Only 46 percent of Latino voters under 30 said they plan to vote, a figure that Kumar said jumped out.”

Conversely, a robust turnout of diverse Latino communities could, not only improve Biden’s electoral vote tally, but also help Democrats win majorities of the U.S. Senate and state legislatures.

Political Strategy Notes

“The number one issue to voters this year is the pandemic,” Bill Schneider writes in “There’s a Big Blue Wave Coming” at The Hill. “Democratic pollster Geoff Garin told the Washington Post, “Trump is increasingly defined in voters’ minds by his failing response to the coronavirus crisis, and virtually every action and position he’s taken have been wildly out of sync with where the public is at on what should be done.” The president has said he thinks the virus will “just disappear.” He has consistently downplayed the threat posed by the coronavirus and is urging Americans to learn to live with it. That means learning to live with more than 3 million Americans infected and over 134,000 dead — more than twice as many as the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam war…Biden’s response? “Make no mistake. We are still in a deep, deep jobs hole because Donald Trump has so badly bungled the response to the coronavirus and now has basically given up responding at all.”

Texas is a swing state in 2020, new polls reveal,” according to poll analyst Harry Enten, writing at CNN Politics: “New CBS News/YouGov polls show President Donald Trump is in trouble in three states he won in 2016. He’s tied with former Vice President Joe Biden in Arizona (46% to 46%), a state he won by four points in 2016. Trump’s down 48% to 42% in Florida, a state he took by a point in 2016…But it’s the third state, Texas, where the eye popping result comes from. It’s Trump 46% to Biden’s 45%, a result well within any margin of error…The 2020 campaign could be the first time Democrats captured the Lone Star State in a presidential election since 1976…The CBS News/YouGov poll is not an outlier over the last month. There have been eight polls released publicly since the beginning of June. The result is that Biden and Trump are basically tied, with Biden up by a mere 0.3 points in Texas…Importantly, and unlike in other states, the polls in Texas have not overestimated Democrats over the last few cycles. If anything Democrats actually slightly outperformed their final polls in the 2016 presidential race and 2018 Senate races.”

At The Cook Political Report, Amy Walter explains why Trump’s “cancel culture” branding strategy is unlikely to have much effect in the 2020 elections: “In 2016, with the economy stable and life in a relatively “normal” place, it was easy to distract and engage voters with this stuff. Today, however, when 87 percent of Americans (according to a recent Pew poll) say they are disappointed in the direction of the country, it’s hard to scare them into thinking that things will worsen if they vote for former Vice President Joe Biden in the fall. And, Biden isn’t making himself an easy target either. He was quick to denounce the ‘defund police’ movement. He also came out in defense of preserving and protecting national monuments dedicated to founding leaders like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.”

Perry Bacon, Jr. argues at FiveThirty Eight that “it isn’t easy or necessarily guaranteed that the Republicans will overwhelmingly win the white vote overall or the white non-college vote specifically — even in an election that’s centered on race. The 2017-2018 period was full of racialized political debate, most notably on immigration policy, but the exit polls suggest Democrats lost white voters without a college degree by 24 percentage points in 2018, compared to 37 points in 2016. So far in 2020, polls show Biden losing white voters without a degree by a margin closer to 20 points…Meanwhile, Biden might carry white voters with a college degree by a large margin, in part because those voters have been turned off by Trump’s approach to racial issues. Indeed, white voters with a college degree or postgraduate education have been trending Democratic for years, and the GOP approach to race and ethnicity is likely a factor.”

Writing at The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein shares some revealing observations about the changes that will charactrize the 2020 electorate, including, “From the 2016 GOP primaries forward, white voters without a college education have provided Trump’s largest group of loyalists. In the 1968 presidential election, that group comprised nearly 80 percent of all voters, according to post-election surveys by both the Census Bureau and the University of Michigan’s American National Election Studies. White Americans holding at least a four-year college degree represented about 15 percent of voters, with nonwhite Americans, almost all of them Black, comprising the remainder, at just under 10 percent. (The Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz analyzed the ANES data for me.)..That electorate is unrecognizable now. The nonpartisan States of Change project has forecast that non-college-educated white Americans will likely constitute 42 percent of voters in November, slightly more than half their share in 1968. States of Change anticipates that both college-educated white voters and voters of color will represent about 30 percent of voters in 2020. For the former group, that’s about twice their share in 1968; for the latter, that’s somewhere between a three- and fourfold increase.”

From Robert Reich’s share-worthy, blistering indictment, “Trump and McConnell are the twin tribunes of America’s ruin – vote them out: Under leaders as callous as these, the ravages of Covid-19, economic disaster and systemic racism can only get worse” by Robert Reich at The Guardian: “Donald Trump has not only refused to contain Covid-19 but is actively pushing Americans into harm’s way, demanding the nation “reopen” while cases and deaths continue to rise. Meanwhile, he’s siphoning federal money intended to dampen the economic crisis into the pockets of his cronies and family. And he is deliberately stoking racial tensions to energize his “base” for the upcoming election…As if this weren’t enough, Trump continues to attack the rule of law, on which a democracy depends in order to deal with these and all other challenges…But he could not accomplish these abhorrent feats alone. Senate Republicans are either cheering him on or maintaining a shameful silence. Trump’s biggest enabler is the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.”

Reich continues, “McConnell’s take on Trump’s multiple attacks on the rule of law, including Friday’s commutation of former Trump campaign aide Roger Stone’s prison sentence? Utter silence…But McConnell has been a vocal opponent of the Heroes Act – passed by the House in early May to help Americans survive the pandemic and fortify the upcoming election – calling it a “liberal wishlist”. In fact, it’s a necessary list…McConnell and his fellow Senate Republicans don’t want to extend the bill’s extra-$600-a-week unemployment benefits, enacted in March but due to expire on 31 July. They argue the benefits are higher than what low-income workers are likely to earn on the job, so the money is a disincentive to work…Baloney. Few jobs are available to low-income workers, and most are in so-called “essential” work rife with Covid-19. Besides, the US economy can’t be revived unless people have extra money in their pockets to buy goods and services. Even before the pandemic, nearly 80% of Americans lived paycheck to paycheck. Now many are desperate, as revealed by lengthening food lines and growing delinquencies in rent payments.”

Reich, author of The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, notes further, “Yet McConnell and his ilk are happy to give away trillions of dollars in bailouts to Wall Street bankers and corporate executives, on the dubious premise that the rich will work harder if they receive more money while people of modest means work harder if they receive less. In reality, the rich contribute more to Republican campaigns when they get bailed out…McConnell and Senate Republicans quietly inserted into the last Covid relief bill a $170bn windfall to Jared Kushner and other real estate moguls. Another $454bn went to backing up a Federal Reserve program that benefits big business by buying up debt…And although that bill was also intended to help small businesses, lobbyists connected to Trump – including current donors and fundraisers for his re-election – helped their clients rake in more than $10bn, while an estimated 90% of small businesses owned by people of color and women got nothing…The inept and overwhelmingly corrupt reign of Trump and McConnell will come to an end next January if enough Americans vote this November.”

In his column on “The Democrats’ suburban evangelists,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes, “No one will ever accuse Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey, a freshman electedin the 2018 Democratic wave, of complacency. “The last time a Democrat has won reelection in my district,” he said cheerfully, “was before the Civil War.”…But a lot hangs on the ability of Democrats such as Kim to survive and prosper in places where voters would once have shuddered at the thought of sending anyone but a Republican to Washington…Kim spoke of H.R. 1, the political reform package that many Democrats will highlight this fall. “When it comes to campaign finance reform and fighting corruption in Washington and fighting corporate special interests in Washington,” Kim said, “the vast majority of people in my district, whether Republicans or Democrats or unaffiliated voters, that is a top priority for them.” It could prove to be a sleeper issue…Building a new majority requires converting voters who were once part of the old one. No one is more aware of this than the Democrats’ suburban evangelists.”

The Big Consequences of a Big Biden Win

Got a little hypothetical at New York this week given Biden’s big polling lead over Trump:

Among those of us who obsessively track electoral horse-race analysis, it was the shot heard round the world: “This election is looking more like a Democratic tsunami than simply a Blue wave.”

Coming from veteran observer Amy Walters of the ultra-cautious Cook Political Report, this was an unusually bold assertion, buttressed, it appears, by her belief that “the president is not interested in changing his approach or focus” despite countless indicators that he needs to in order to survive. She even discounts the possibility that Trump’s dismal performance will create a “checks and balances” undertow benefiting down-ballot Republicans among voters worrying about too much Democratic power:

“At least one Republican I spoke with … was wary of a check and balance working this year, telling me that ‘people are looking for a restart and a reset.’ That includes down-ballot candidates as well as the president. “

So it might be time to take a cautious and highly conditional look ahead at what a “Democratic tsunami” might look like, and might produce after the elections. Democrats with a superstitious fear of even thinking over-confidently are excused from a further reading of this piece, lest they tempt the Lord Satan (or at least Vladimir Putin) to intervene demonically on the president’s behalf.

1. A Decisive Result That Makes Any Trump Post-Election Contest Impossible

Let’s say Joe Biden performs exactly as national and state polling averages at RealClearPolitics currently suggest. That would be an 8.7 percent advantage in the national popular vote, the largest major-party victory margin since Ronald Reagan’s blowout win over Walter Mondale in 1984. He’d carry all seven battleground states for which there is public polling in the RCP database: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, giving him at least 333 electoral votes.

But the most immediate, and perhaps most important, effect of a large Biden win would be to neutralize Team Trump’s pretty visible plans to contest a close loss based on success in early returns, followed by legal maneuverings, state government machinations, and even violence in the streets to produce a 2000-style victory-from-the-jaws-of-defeat. Even if Trump managed to post early leads in some competitive states based on heavy in-person Election Day voting by Republicans, they wouldn’t last long, and the Biden wave in later-counted (mostly mail) ballots would be too large and national to attribute to any sort of wire-pulling, particularly given Republican control of the election machinery in some of these states.

A Biden tsunami is definitely the best, and possibly the only, way to avoid disinformation about the results in a year when a slow count is going to definitely occur.

2. A Solidly Democratic, if Not Filibuster-Proof, Senate

Right now, control of the Senate is teetering in the balance, with Democrats needing (assuming Biden wins and installs his vice-president as the chamber’s tie-breaker) a net gain of three seats to take away Mitch McConnell’s gavel.

Using Cook’s very change-averse ratings, of 11 competitive Senate races, nine are for seats currently controlled by the GOP, with Biden leading in the polls in five of the states with those vulnerable GOP seats. Given the recent trend toward straight-ticket voting — in 2016, every single Senate race was won by the party that carried the state in the presidential election — it’s extremely likely Democrats would win the Senate if they and Biden are performing as they are currently. That’s crucial, for the most obvious reason that a Senate majority would ease confirmation of Biden’s executive and judicial branch appointees.

But let’s say for the sake of argument that Biden’s lead expands and Democratic Senate candidates do even better. If Democrats won all 11 competitive races on Cook’s ratings board, they’d have 56 Senate seats (though one win would likely have to wait until January of 2021 for a runoff in the Georgia seat occupied by Republican appointee Kelly Loeffler). That’s a comfortable margin that would give Democrats a nice cushion on difficult Senate votes, thought not enough to overcome a united Republican minority deploying the filibuster. It might give new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, enough votes to abolish the filibuster even if he loses a few institutionalist Democrats. And it could very likely put reconquest of the Senate in the 2022 midterms out of reach for Republicans.

3. Iron-clad Democratic Control of the House

Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to step down as House Speaker in 2022 subsequent to a deal she cut to head off opposition following the 2018 elections. A big Democratic win in 2020 would make her last two years wielding the gavel much more pleasant.

The current Democratic margin of control in the House (35 seats), along with recently enhanced party unity, means that Pelosi rarely has to worry about Democratic defections. Another ten or twenty seats would likely remove all doubt.

Above all, of course, a Democratic trifecta in Washington for the first time since 2010, means House and Senate Democrats could focus on enacting laws rather than fighting off destructive GOP legislation (as they had to do for the first two years of the Trump presidency) or producing gridlock (as they’ve done since their House takeover).

4. State Government Gains Just in Time for Redistricting

Democrats are targeting seven key states where an achievable flip in control of legislative chambers could have a major effect on the redistricting cycle that plays out between 2021 and 2022: Arizona (House and Senate), Iowa (House), Michigan (House), Minnesota (Senate), North Carolina (Senate), Pennsylvania (House and Senate), and Texas (House). A true Democratic tsunami could pull other chambers into play, with dividends that could pay off for the next decade.

There are only 11 gubernatorial races this cycle, and according to Cook, only two are competitive, both in seats currently held by Democrats (in Montana and North Carolina). But while gains are unlikely, holding onto those two governorships, particularly in the North Carolina battleground, would be quite valuable.

All in all, a Democratic “tsunami” this November would not only end the Trump Era and destroy much of the power of his Senate allies, but could force an extended crisis in a Republican Party that is already looking down the barrel of demographic trends that are not friendly to its reactionary views or narrow constituencies.

Teixeira: Biden Unites the ‘Widest Possible Coalition’

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

So, Was Biden the Most Electable Candidate? Yup.

Once upon a time, there was quite a debate about this, including whether electability was even a real thing. Political scientist David Hopkins notes in his Honest Graft blog:

“In the young progressive circles that are disproportionately well-represented in the online world, it was common either to reject the electability logic altogether or to claim that it actually favored candidates on the left. The science reporter at a well-known “explainer” website even argued that because differences in the relative potential strength of prospective nominees cannot be determined precisely in advance, the entire concept was dubious even in the abstract: “it’s subjective, not objective . . . electability ain’t no science.”

These arguments did not carry the day. Rank-and-file Democrats did think Biden was more electable and they were right to do so. Hopkins:

“From one perspective, the electability argument for Biden has been completely vindicated. Biden has opened up a bigger lead over Trump in the national popular vote than any candidate has enjoyed at this stage since Bill Clinton coasted to re-election in 1996, and he is so well-positioned in the electoral college that the battleground map has expanded into the traditional red territory of Arizona, Georgia, and even Texas. The Trump campaign has proven unable as of yet to land a damaging punch on Biden, and has even struggled to find a promising line of attack.

Biden hasn’t been as invisible a candidate as some critics claim, but his campaign activities during the pandemic have not generated much sustained attention. Because journalists do not find the very familiar Biden to be a particularly fruitful source of interesting stories, the national media has been focusing instead almost entirely on Trump, and Trump’s spiraling political problems, since the Democratic nomination wrapped up after Super Tuesday. The relative novelty of nearly every other major potential nominee—Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg—would have attracted more coverage from the media and pulled the spotlight away from Trump much more frequently….

[E]enough evidence now exists to shed light on two claims made by some advocates of non-Biden candidates in the 2020 Democratic primaries. One is that there are so few remaining swing voters in our current age of rampant polarization that mobilization of the party base is more productive than trying to achieve a broader appeal, and the other is that a Biden nomination would not excite enough voters on the left to stimulate this necessary mobilization.

Both of these claims have already been contradicted by the polls. Biden wouldn’t have pulled into the strong lead he now holds if he weren’t drawing significant support from previous Republican voters. (According to recent surveys by the New York Times, 14 percent of battleground state residents who supported Trump in 2016 are not supporting him in 2020.) After years of media stories about Trump’s skill in stoking the passionate devotion of his own party, the last few months have forced a widespread journalistic rediscovery of the importance of swing voters and the danger of Trump’s declining popularity among this still-pivotal bloc. And while Biden himself doesn’t inspire as much personal enthusiasm among Democrats as Trump does among many Republicans, overall levels of interest in the election are equal across party lines: Democratic voters are as motivated to vote against the president as Republicans are to vote for him.”

it’s also worth noting the overwhelming support Biden is receiving from the supporters of other Democratic nomination candidates. Nate Cohn:

“Over all, voters in the battleground states who said Bernie Sanders was their top choice for president said they backed Mr. Biden over President Trump, 87 percent to 4 percent. If there was a Bernie-or-Bust movement, it has either faded with the conclusion of the Democratic race, or it never existed in serious numbers in the battleground states.

Mr. Biden commands even more significant support from voters who supported Elizabeth Warren in the primary. The Democrats who said she was their top choice to be the Democratic nominee backed Mr. Biden over Mr. Trump by a staggering margin of 96 percent to 0 percent — even wider than Mr. Biden’s 96-1 lead among those who said he was their top choice in the Democratic primary….

The unity of Democratic voters in the Times/Siena polls represents a marked change from four years ago, when a significant number of Sanders supporters never embraced Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. According to the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, she won just 74 percent of voters who backed Mr. Sanders in the 2016 primary, while 12 percent voted for Mr. Trump.”

I know some–many–are reluctant to admit it but Biden is turning out to be a truly excellent candidate for the current moment and his opponent. He is uniting the widest possible coalition and efficiently turning Trump disapproval into the cold, hard currency of Democratic votes. It’s a beautiful thing.

That’s why the conservative Cook Political Report ratings now have Biden with a majority of the electoral college solid, likely or leaning Democratic (see graphic below). That’s why Biden is:

* Steadily firming up overwhelming youth and nonwhite support

* Cleaning up among white college voters

* Cutting Clinton’s deficit among white noncollege voters in half

* Producing a double-digit pro-Democratic shift among senior voters.

Like I say, it’s a beautiful thing.

Galston: President Trump is losing support among young white working-class voters

The following article by William A. Galston, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of  “Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy” and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from Brookings:

So far in his re-election campaign, President Trump has stubbornly refused to expand his base, playing instead to a brand of populist conservatism that rests on solid support from white working-class voters. But a Pew Research Center survey released at the end of June suggests that voters in this group under age 40 are breaking ranks. They are less likely to say that they plan to vote for the president this November than are their parents and grandparents, they question his competence to handle the major issues facing the country, and they have formed a negative assessment of his character.

The same poll shows that 87% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going, and only 17% are proud of the country’s condition. Only 39% approve of how Donald Trump is handling his job as president, and former Vice President Joe Biden leads him by 10 percentage points, 54-44.

Against this backdrop, the erosion in the Trump white working-class base is a major blow to the president’s reelection chances. As the following tables show, weakness appears in four areas tested by the poll—voting intentions, assessments of Trump’s presidency and character, and judgments on his handling of key issues.

Table 1: Voting intentions of white working-class voters by age

  18-39 40-64 65+
Voting for/leaning toward Trump 55% 66% 62%
Voting for/leaning toward Biden 40% 32% 35%

Former Vice President Biden doesn’t hold any special appeal for white working-class voters under 40. Indeed, voters over 65 are more likely to think well of him. Of the 40% of young voters who support Biden, only 5% express approval of him, while 35% say they that they will be casting a vote against President Trump. As Table 2 shows, a plurality of these voters think that the Trump presidency is a failure.

Table 2: Has Trump been a good president? (White working-class voters by age)

18-39 40-64 65+
Trump has been a good or great president 44% 59% 57%
Trump has been a poor or terrible president 46% 31% 37%

President Trump’s competence

Table 3 summarizes white working-class voters’ confidence that the president can address key issues “very” or “somewhat” well.

Table 3: Trump’s handling of issues among white working-class voters by age

18-39 40-64 65+
Handle the coronavirus outbreak 46% 64% 59%
Make good decisions about foreign policy 47% 67% 61%
Make good decisions about economic policy 57% 72% 66%
Effectively handle race relations 35% 57% 55%
Effectively handle law enforcement and criminal justice 46% 65% 60%
Bring the country together 35% 51% 47%

President Trump’s character

Table 4 summarizes white working-class voters’ belief that certain words describe Mr. Trump “very” or “fairly” well.

Table 4: Descriptions of President Trump among white working-class voters by age

18-39 40-64 65+
Courageous 50% 66% 61%
Honest 41% 58% 54%
Even-tempered 26% 42% 39%
Cares about the needs of ordinary people 46% 64% 59%
A good role model 34% 50% 50%

Here, as with questions of competence, there is a consistent difference between white working-class voters under age 40 and older voters. Among the plausible hypotheses: the younger members of this group are more comfortable with diversity and less moved by the memory of vanished high-pay manufacturing jobs. While we can speculate about the reasons for this difference, only further research can clarify them.

Losing the future

After the 2012 election, Republican leaders issued a report recommending that their party reach out to younger and non-white voters. Four years later, Donald Trump shocked the world by doing the reverse—and winning. But the question remains: as education and demography have made white working-class voters a shrinking share of the electorate, was Trump’s victory a harbinger of the future or the last gasp of a dying order?

The results summarized in this article suggest that the latter is more likely. If even younger white Americans without college degrees are turning away from what the Republican Party has become, the choice Mr. Trump represents is a cul de sac.

We will not know until the votes are cast. But if current surveys are leading indicators, after November 3rd the Republican Party will be forced to debate its future more fundamentally than at any time since the 1970s.

A note on method: All numbers are for registered voters, and the differences between 18-39-year-olds and other age groups are statistically significant. I am grateful to the Pew team, and especially to Calvin Jordan, for their patient responsiveness to my endless requests for additional information.

Political Strategy Notes

In her column, “New July 2020 Electoral College Ratings,” Amy Walter notes at The Cook Political Report, “This election is looking more like a Democratic tsunami than simply a Blue wave. President Trump, mired in some of the lowest job approval ratings of his presidency, is trailing Biden by significant margins in key battleground states like Pennsylvania (8 points), Michigan (9 points), and Wisconsin (9 points). He’s even running behind Biden in his firewall states of Florida and North Carolina…We’ve made changes to our Electoral College ratings to reflect this reality…Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska’s 2nd district move from Toss Up to Lean Democrat…Maine, once in Lean Democrat, moves to the safer Likely Democratic category…Georgia has joined Arizona, North Carolina and Florida in the Toss Up column, although, at this point, Biden would be slightly favored to win at least Arizona and Florida…Maine’s 2nd district has moved from Likely Republican to a more competitive Lean Republican…These moves alone push Biden over the 270 electoral vote threshold (to 279).”

“One of the biggest unknowns, however,” Walter continues, “is voting itself. As we’ve seen this spring and early summer, most states are not prepared for an onslaught of absentee ballots. And confusion about how/where to vote could impact turnout. Moreover, if voters start to sense that the race for president is a blow-out, will they be more willing to split their tickets to ensure a ‘check and balance’ in Washington next fall? At least one Republican I spoke with, however, was wary of a check and balance working this year, telling me that “people are looking for a restart and a reset.” That includes down-ballot candidates as well as the president.”

Also at The Cook Political Report, Charlie Cook discusses the roles of key demographic groups in the election and writes, “It’s among white voters that things get more interesting. The first thing to note is that their overall share of the electorate is shrinking at a fairly rapid rate, dropping about 2 percentage points every four years, from 74 percent in 2008 to 72 percent in 2012 and 70 percent in the last election—something that Republicans should keep in mind…Among those four quadrants of white voters, split by gender and level of educational attainment, Trump won the support of white men with less than a four-year college degree (17 percent of the 2016 electorate) by a 49-point margin (72 to 23 percent) in 2016. He has led Biden by anywhere from 25 to 44 points in polling over the past two months. This is Trump’s base; only among self-described Republicans, conservatives, and evangelicals does he do better.”

“The next-best group for Trump,” Cook adds “is white women with less than a four-year degree. They also made up 17 percent of the 2016 electorate, siding with the Republicans by a 28-point margin (62 to 34 percent). This group has strayed from the Trump camp since 2016; most recent polling has him ahead by somewhere between 5 and 15 points…White men with college degrees come next, again with 17 percent of the 2016 vote. Then, they voted for Trump over Clinton by 15 points (54 to 39 percent). But public polling in the current race has been all over the map. The early June PBS/NPR/Marist College poll had Biden up by 2 points (47 to 45 percent), the May and June Fox News polls had Trump up by 8 (51 to 43 percent) and 10 percent (50 to 40 percent). A late June PBS/NPR/Marist poll as well as March and May ABC News/Washington Post polls had Trump up by 12 points and 4 points, respectively.”

Further, Cook notes, “White women with college degrees give Trump the least support of the four white quadrants. They made up 20 percent of the electorate in the last presidential election, going for Clinton by a 6-point margin. This year, they’ve been siding with Biden by 20- and 30-point margins…The Trump forces will obviously put considerable resources into getting out the vote of white men without college degrees; the Biden campaign will put the same kind of resources into African Americans, Latinos and white women with college degrees. The battlefield will be the persuadable college-educated men and women without degrees.”

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall probes the roots of political polarization in 2020, and shares observations from several studies, including: “Jaime Settle, a political scientist at the College of William and Mary, has also explored the ambiguities of heritability of psychological traits with political consequences. “While there is a consistent pattern that ideology is heritable, the direction of partisanship typically has not been found to be heritable,” she wrote in an email. However, she continued, “My expectation is that the sorting in American politics that occurred in the post-Civil Rights Era has changed that. Thus, partisanship today might show up to be heritable, but it would be a statistical artifact of the consequence of the alignment of ideology and partisanship…Our ideological labels in America have become identities as much as statements about our political beliefs. In the parlance of political scientists, people have much stronger symbolic ideologies than operational ideologies. The intractability of polarization is because of the alignment of many of our social identities, an argument that Lily Mason [author of Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identitymakes, and the reason “culture war” issues resonate so much is that they are much more threatening to people’s layered identities.””

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. provides an insightful assessment of the recent Supreme Court ruling “that allows even publicly traded corporations — not just family-owned companies — to deny their female employees this coverage if they have religious objections.” Dionne argues: “Given that more than two-thirds of Americans believe, in principle at least, that private health insurance plans should cover contraception, it’s strange that we can’t seem to settle the matter. You would think a functioning democracy could work this issue out in a reasonable way that respected the rights of women as well as the rights of those with religious objections to contraception…in dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, asked exactly the right question: “May the Government jettison an arrangement that promotes women workers’ well-being while accommodating employers’ religious tenets and, instead, defer entirely to employers’ religious beliefs, although that course harms women who do not share those beliefs?”…ultimately, it will be for the voters to decide whether we want leadership that seeks reasonable and durable settlements of divisive cultural questions. Doing so will help us move on to such pressing concerns as getting everyone health coverage in the first place.”

“Over the last few decades, Georgia has gone from a swing state to reliably GOP. But it’s now looking like a genuinely competitive state again,” J. Miles Coleman and Nials Francis write in “States of Play: Georgia – Once-dominant Democrats need formerly Republican suburbs to come through for them in 2020” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball. “Democrats have made major inroads in both urban Atlanta and its suburbs, but their gains have been somewhat blunted by the sharp Republican trend in other parts of the state…In the state’s regular Senate election this year, we’re downgrading Sen. David Perdue’s chances. We now have both Georgia’s seats rated as Leans Republican…Looking to November, Georgia seems poised to receive attention from both sides, up and down the ballot. While it does seem to be shifting more into the purple state category, if Biden carries the state, he would likely already be over 270 electoral votes. With one, or both, of its Senate races likely heading to a runoff, political junkies could have Georgia on their minds even after the November general elections. Finally, Georgia’s two competitive House seats speak to the rapid pace of changes that parts of the state have seen. In 2016, the Crystal Ball rated both GA-6 and GA-7 as Safe Republican. After nearly a full term of the Trump presidency, Democrats are favored to hold the former and have at least an even money chance to flip the latter.”

From “Biden-Sanders taskforces unveil proposals for party unity” at msn.com: “US presidential hopeful Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled proposals crafted with supporters of his progressive ex-rival Bernie Sanders as the Democratic Party prepares to release its platform at next month’s national convention…The recommendations include more ambitious environmental timelines than those in Biden’s initial climate proposal, such as eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035…They also include criminal justice reforms that take on added significance in the wake of the May killing of African-American man George Floyd by Minneapolis police…The proposals home in on the coronavirus pandemic and aim to end the disadvantage that blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and women “have suffered disproportionately due to the COVID-19 pandemic and President Trump’s recession,” and have received less than their fair share of economic relief…The task forces on climate change, health care, the economy, immigration, education and criminal justice reform came together in May to forge a roadmap for defeating Trump, and to engage voters who supported more progressive candidates in the primary race including Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren…”Though the end result is not what I or my supporters would have written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families,” Sanders said in a statement.”

Trump’s Approaching Convention Fiasco

I’ve been following this story for a good while, and did an update this week at New York:

With each passing day, it’s becoming more obvious that the old-school, packed-hall national political convention the president is forcing his party to undertake — despite the inconvenience, cost, and risk — may have to be canceled or scaled back, lest it become a supersize version of the Trump fiasco in Tulsa.

First of all, thanks to Trump’s decision to yank key parts of the convention from its original site in Charlotte, financing the event has become a struggle, as the New York Times reports:

“The abrupt uprooting of the Republican National Convention from Charlotte to Jacksonville has created a tangled financial predicament for party officials as they effectively try to pay for two big events instead of one. Tens of millions of dollars have already been spent in a city that will now host little more than a G.O.P. business meeting, and donors are wary of opening their wallets again to bankroll a Jacksonville gathering thrown into uncertainty by a surge in coronavirus cases.”

The financial situation has been exacerbated by the second big problem: Trump has moved his convention from a coronavirus frying pan to a coronavirus wildfire:

“In Jacksonville, fund-raisers are describing the process as the most difficult they have ever confronted: Florida has been setting daily records for new virus cases, freezing money as donors wait and worry about the safety risks of the pandemic.

“’I don’t want to encourage people getting sick,’ said Stanley S. Hubbard, a Minnesota billionaire who has donated more than $2 million to help Republicans, including President Trump, since the beginning of the 2016 election … ‘Unless this thing goes away, I think it’s a bad choice,’ he said.”

The third big problem is that people associated with Trump are now beginning to hint that the convention itself could go away, or at least be held under conditions similar to the virtual convention Democrats moved toward early in the pandemic. On Sunday, Trump-appointed FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said that it was “too early to tell” if Florida will be a safe place to host the RNC.

Texas Democrats more prudently held a virtual event last month.

It’s also possible, of course, that Trump is so enamored of the kind of convention he wants that he will push on with it despite the risk of delegates not showing up or, worse yet, attending a super-spreader event that makes a lot of people sick.

What makes this whole convoluted mess particularly dubious is that there are growing signs it won’t do Trump much good even if it comes off precisely as planned. As Geoffrey Skelley explains at FiveThirtyEight, the idea of a convention “bounce” for either party’s presidential candidate may be outdated:

“[C]onvention bounces have been getting smaller, which is likely a byproduct of how polarized our politics have become. There are just fewer swing voters, so it’s harder for a candidate to attract support outside of his or her core base of supporters.”

Beyond that, of course, the very idea of conventions as stage-managed infomercials that dominate the airwaves with positive messaging could be dead wrong this particular year. Unless the coronavirus really does miraculously vanish between now and late August (Trump’s big acceptance speech is scheduled for August 27), the risks the GOP is taking will get a lot of attention even if the worst doesn’t happen. And the pandemic and its economic impact will probably rob both conventions of the kind of obsessive media attention they typically get.

Republicans should have stuck with Charlotte and moved to a largely virtual convention that would have been far safer and likely more effective from the party’s point of view. As it is, the whole event may simply demonstrate how the president’s narcissism is the GOP’s real — if inadvertent — reelection message.

KY’s McGrath-McConnell Battle As the Marquee Senate Race

As Trump’s chief enabler, Mitch McConnell, will have a lot to answer for when historians look back on the Trump era as the most polarizing and destructive presidency in American history. Not that Senate Majority Leader McConnell cares, for his overarching concern seems to be acquisition and deployment of political power, without regard to moral considerations, including the well-being of his constituents or the nation as a whole.

And if the G.O.P. suffers an historic rout on November 3rd, McConnell will have earned a large share of the blame as the one Republican who could have kept Trump on a leash, simply by insisting on more of a spirit of bipartisanship and a just a little moderation for the sake of legislative success. Even if McConnell wins re-election, but his party loses their senate majority, his fellow Republicans may call for new party leadership as an essential requirement for rebuilding.

Thus Amy McGrath’s campaign to defeat McConnell is now drawing more media coverage than any of the other competitive Senate races. But there are some other, less obvious reasons for the growing attention being focused on McGrath’s campaign, some of which are outlined by Chris Cillizza at CNN Politics, including:

…McGrath doesn’t need to beat McConnell to reshape the Senate map. All she has to do is be competitive enough that she a) keeps McConnell focused on his own race and b) forces him (and, potentially, the national Republican Party) to spend time and money ensuring that the Republican leader wins.

While Booker, the youngest black Kentucky lawmaker at 35 years old, got the lion’s share of positive press attention in the final weeks of the primary race, there was a reason that Senate Democrats’ campaign arm had endorsed McGrath’s candidacy in February: Because she is a remarkably strong fundraiser…And, as of June 3, McGrath had raised $41 million for her Senate campaign — and had more than $19 million left in her bank account as of that date. That’s $4 million more than McConnell had on hand at the same time. (McConnell has raised more than $32 million for the race so far.)
Cillizza concedes that “McGrath is a less able campaigner than she is a fundraiser…she didn’t beat [Rep. Andy] Barr in 2018 — despite that being a very good year to be a Democratic challenger…Yet, “if she can raise, let’s say, $80 million total, then McConnell and the national Republican Party apparatus are also going to have to spend heavily to ensure he wins again — despite the clear Republican lean of the state at the federal level. (The last Democrat to win a Senate race in Kentucky was Sen. Wendell Ford back in 1992.)” Further,
So, let’s say that $20 million gets spent on the Kentucky race to make sure that McConnell is insulated from the TV ad onslaught that McGrath’s fundraising can buy…Well, that’s $20 million that can’t be spent on trying to reelect Arizona Sen. Martha McSally. Or Maine Sen. Susan Collins. Or North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis. Or Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler. You get the idea.

And then there’s this to consider: If McConnell, the best fundraiser among Senate Republicans, is focused on raising money for his own reelection race, he can’t raise as much money for all of those senators I just named above. Ditto for if he is pinned down in Kentucky rather than traveling across the country for events to collect cash for the most vulnerable GOP incumbents.
Winning, when it comes to McConnell, isn’t necessarily the goal for Senate Democrats as they try to net the three seats (if Joe Biden wins the White House) or four (if he doesn’t) they need for the majority. Senate Democrats don’t need Kentucky to get to the majority. In fact, there are roughly a dozen GOP seats that would likely fall before McConnell loses.
Instead, keeping McConnell occupied on his own race has to be Democrats’ goal. And McGrath makes that much more likely.

McGrath’s weaknesses as a candidate as a “less able campaigner than she is a fund-raiser” cited by Cillizza may matter less in the pandemic environment, since traveling around giving speeches and participating in debates is not a campaign priority in 2020. Democrats should nonetheless make sure their best debate coaches and media advisors are available to McGrath’s campaign.

But McGrath’s campaign should leverage her impressive success as a fund-raiser by producing the most effective ads, social media strategy and ground game. In so doing, she will maximize her chances to win. But even if she loses, she will have served the causes of strengthening Democratic prospects and hastening the end of McConnell’s reckless reign of the Senate. Those who want to contribute to these goals can do so right here.

Teixeira: Is Stan Greenberg Right to Say We Should Believe the Polls This Time?

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

I largely agree with Greenberg’s analysis in this Atlantic piece. I thought it would be interesting to go through the piece and annotate his argument a bit where I have something to add.

“[T]his moment is very different. To start, during the summer and fall of 2016, Clinton never had the kind of national poll lead that Biden now has. She led by an average of four points four months before the election and the same four points just before Election Day. This year, after Biden effectively clinched the nomination, he moved into an average six-point lead over Trump, which has grown to nearly 10 points after the death of George Floyd and the weeks of protests that have followed. The lingering apprehension among Democrats fails to recognize just how much the political landscape has changed since 2016. We are looking at different polls, a different America, and different campaigns with different leaders.”

This is all correct. It is now incorrect to say Clinton followed the same trajectory and still lost.

“The Clinton campaign’s worst blunder came in September 2016, when the candidate described “half of Trump’s supporters” as “deplorables” and walked right into the white working-class revolt against elites. Her primary campaign against Bernie Sanders had exposed a lack of enthusiasm for her in white working-class suburbs that Barack Obama had won. Her campaign hoped to make up for the lost votes with landslide wins among women, voters of color, and voters in big cities. White working-class voters noticed the lack of respect, and Trump ran up startling margins with them: He won these men by 48 points and women by 27, according to exit polls.”

I agree with this; anyone who doesn’t think Clinton committed political malpractice with how she handled white working class voters in 2016 has rocks in their head. However, note that the exit poll figures quoted by Greenberg are almost certainly too high. Better data however still show an immense swing away from the Democrats among this demographic.

“And the white working-class shift toward Trump is the biggest reason the national polls overestimated Clinton’s margin by two points and the state polls by much more. Mostly using exit polls from prior elections as their guide, pollsters—including me—had overestimated the number of four-year college graduates in the electorate. Getting that wrong mattered a lot in an election where the white working class was in revolt. Crucially, many pollsters, including me, have adjusted our assumptions about the makeup of the November 2020 electorate.”

Correct. Though of course I had been pointing this out for 20 years or so prior to 2016 and no one seemed to think t was a problem worth attending to.

“So one reason to trust my polls more now than in 2016 is this change: Four years ago, those without a four-year degree made up 48 percent of my survey respondents; today they account for 60 percent. Whites without a college degree were 33 percent of my surveys; today they are 43 percent. That is a huge change—an elixir against being deceived again. The pain of Trump’s victory and disastrous presidency has concentrated the minds of campaign staff and the polling profession in ways that give me confidence that Biden’s lead in the polls is real.”

Better late than never. Let’s hope other pollsters have followed the same trajectory.

“Much more devastating to Trump’s prospects is waning support from women who form a majority of the white working class. Without strong support from these voters, Trump cannot win. Right now, Biden is losing them by only seven points in my same battleground poll.”

This is correct and is a point I have stressed many times. It really is true that Trump cannot win with his current support levels among this demographic.

“Recently, Trump’s average approval rating has slipped a bit to about 41 percent, while his disapproval rating has jumped to about 56 percent. That looks a lot like the 14-point margin for Biden over Trump in the most recent New York Times poll.”

This is consistent with the 538 running poll average on approval. The importance of such low approval cannot be overemphasized–approval numbers like this are a death sentence.

“In the next four months, many things could put Biden’s current lead at risk. On occasion, between now and November, Biden will garble his words in an interview or make some public statement that many people will struggle to understand. He will surely sound out of touch or offend one group or another. Younger voters and Sanders primary voters do not appear to be rapturously excited about Biden. Calls for defunding the police reveal genuine fractures in the Democratic Party.”

I am less worried about the youth vote at this point. The defunding the police movement could be more of a genuine problem but Biden seems to be fairly deft in how he’s handling it.

“Even before the pandemic, the American political landscape had changed dramatically since Trump’s election, and not in ways that favor the incumbent. Biden’s big poll lead should not make Democrats complacent, but neither should members of my party shake their heads and think, Here it comes again. Rather, the current polls should persuade Democrats to work for the greatest possible rejection of a widely distrusted U.S. president and the political party that enables him.”

What he said.

Political Strategy Notes

In his post, “Republican internal polling signals a Democratic rout” at CNN Politics, Harry Enten shares this insight: “Whenever I hear an operative complain about public polling, I have just one thing to say: Put up or shut up. Release your own numbers that show the race in a different place than the public polling, or let the public polling stand. This is especially true in House races, where public polling is limited and there’s a real chance to shape the conventional wisdom…Perhaps, it’s not surprising then that when one party puts out a lot more internal polls than normal, it is good for their side. Parties tend to release good polling when they have it. Since 2004, there has been a near perfect correlation (+0.96 on a scale from -1 to +1) between the share of partisan polls released by the Democrats and the November results…Democratic and liberal aligned groups have put out 17 House polls taken in April or later. Republican aligned groups have put out 0. That’s a very bad ratio for Republicans.”

Arlette Saenz and Sarah Mucha report “Biden campaign readying hundreds of lawyers in expansive vote protection effort” at CNN Politics. ” Joe Biden‘s campaign is assembling hundreds of lawyers nationwide to monitor potential voting issues as part of its extensive voter protection efforts heading into the general election…Speaking at a virtual fundraiser Wednesday, the presumptive Democratic nominee said his team has organized 600 lawyers and others across the country to “try to figure out why the chicanery is likely to take place.” He also said they have recruited 10,000 people as volunteers…”Too often the norm in a campaign is that voter protection staff come on the ground in September or even sometimes in October unfortunately, and they’re sort of on-hand to triage issues that come up, on Election Day or leading up to it,” said David Bergstein, the director of battleground state communications for the DNC. “That model is not the best one to be utilizing particularly this cycle.”

At Vox, Ian Millhiser explains why progressives shouldn’t entertain the delusion that Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are not so bad, after all. Commenting on two new high court rulings, Millhiser writes, “In recent weeks, the Court has handed down a handful of left-leaning decisions — including a narrow decision temporarily preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)  program and an even narrower decision striking down a Louisiana anti-abortion law…But on the most important question in a democracy — whether citizens are empowered to choose their own leaders — this Supreme Court remains unsympathetic to parties seeking to protect the right to vote, despite the greatest public health crisis in more than a century.” All evidence indicates that Justice Roberts has not changed much at all on voting rights since the days when he was the Reagan Administration’s point man for voter suppression. Nor can voting rights advocates expect any support from Gorsuch or Kavanaugh.

In Jake Braun’s “A Perfect Storm of Vulnerabilities Could Determine the 2020 Election,” in The Boston Review, he observes “As we have seen all year, beginning with the days-long debacle of tallying delegates for the Iowa Caucus, Georgia is not the exception but rather a particularly egregious instance of the rule for 2020 election catastrophes. It is imperative we take action now to protect the security and integrity of our elections. Over the last few years four key weaknesses have emerged in our election ecosystem: flawed infrastructure that invariably breaks, organically generated conspiracies and public outcry, vulnerability to low-cost, unattributable system hacks, and susceptibility to trolls and bots. Each of these weaknesses is problematic enough on its own, but taken together they compound the effect of one another to generate a seemingly insurmountable challenge. To ensure the integrity of our elections, we must understand the vulnerabilities as a whole rather than confront them in isolation…Enhancing the transparency of our election infrastructure and security measures with a publicly accessible database would dramatically enhance the security of our elections. Further, talking openly to the public about the broad threat landscape will harden their cognitive security. Both these transparency measures engender trust in our elections and give stakeholders the tools needed to enhance the security of our elections. While these measures would not fully mitigate the expanded threat landscape we face, it would dramatically enhance transparency of election administration—one positive step in what will surely be a decades-long struggle to secure our elections.”

“As for deliverables to the electorate,’ E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes in “A vicious culture war is all Trump has left,” his Washington Post column, “Biden has it all over Trump. The former vice president’s website is chockablock with popular and specific proposals on matters ranging from access to health care and higher education to infrastructure, climate change and higher wages. What is Trump offering? When Fox News’s Sean Hannity recently askedTrump what he wanted to do in a second term, the president offered 138-words of rambling emptiness adding up to nothing. Lacking even a few ideas scribbled on a “sheet of notepaper,” he can only conjure terrorizing national nightmares…It’s true that Trump’s Independence weekend escapades mean we face months of being led by someone so desperate to avoid defeat that he will warp our history, shatter what little unity we have left, and leave it to others to clear the wreckage. But there is hope here, too: Trump is acting like a frightened man who realizes that if his opponents keep their heads and avoid rising to his bait, his days are numbered.”

Democratic campaigns looking for a succinct indictment of Trump/Republican health care policy should check out Harold Meyerson’s article, “Still Exceptional After All These Years” at The American Prospect. As Meyerson writes, “the share of our economy devoted to health care—to pharmaceutical companies, the insurance industry, hospital chains, and so on—far exceeds that of any other nation…When a nation this rich and powerful is also this vulnerable and weak, the causes of its dysfunctions must run very deep. The most proximate cause, of course, is a national government that, since Donald Trump took power, has arrayed its power against fictitious threats it has manufactured itself, like dangerous immigrants or fraudulent voters. This makes it all the easier for conservatives to stoke fear and anger within their political base. At the same time, the Trump administration has ignored the very real threats to its citizens posed by mutating diseases and a worsening climate—not just ignored them, but consistently downplayed them, and diminished our capacity to counter them by defunding public-health agencies and driving scientists from the government, lest their empiricism dispel the imagined enemies and fake cures that Republicans parade before us…while we tally just that 4 percent of earthlings, we constitute a mind-boggling 25 percent of the earthlings who’ve come down with COVID-19 and a further 25 percent of those who’ve died from it.”

At Mother Jones, Kara Voght notes that “The Coronavirus is Knocking Progressive Priorities Off the Ballot: Progressives have increasingly turned to ballot initiatives in red states. COVID-19 has screwed that all up,”  and observes, “Across the country, coronavirus and the efforts to contain it have made it impossible to meet the requirements for putting measures on the ballot. The pandemic will stymie a cycle’s worth of progressive policy that, in some instances, would have directly addressed the medical and financial hardships it has worsened…Twenty-seven US states and territories allow for ballot measures, and in order for a proposed measure to make it onto the ballot, organizers need to collect some minimum number of handwritten signatures…In addition to Idaho’s minimum wage campaign, activists in Arizona suspended their signature-gathering for a measure that would have stopped surprise medical billing and increased health care worker pay. In Oregon, a petition for safe gun storage has stopped, as well, as has a push to legalize marijuana in Missouri. Most of these efforts can reboot for the 2022 cycle, but some cannot: A Oklahoma campaign to establish an independent redistricting committee –an effort to combat gerrymandering—will have lost its window of opportunity by then.”

As reported by Steven Shepard, Politico’s Election Forecast, “based on continual interviews with strategists and operatives, polling and other data streams and the electoral and demographic trends driving the 2020 campaign,” finds that “President Donald Trump is now an underdog to win a second term, and Republicans’ Senate majority is in serious danger of being swept out with him, according to the latest edition of POLITICO’s Election Forecast…A series of crises over the past three months has seen the political environment deteriorate markedly for Trump and his party. The percentage of voters who think the country is headed in the wrong direction is hitting new highs — a record 75 percent in the latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll — and Trump’s approval rating is settling near his all-time lows….Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s lead over Trump is swelling to roughly 10 points nationally — and for the first time, our forecast classifies Biden as the clear favorite in the race…But the race for Senate control is now close to a coin flip. Democrats now have discernible leads in Arizona and Colorado. Retired astronaut Mark Kelly has consistently outpolled appointed Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona’s special election.”