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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Vote Blue! No Matter Who.

VOTE BLUE.

No matter who.

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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

June 3, 2020

Linkon and Russo: Deindustrialization as a Template for COVID-19

The following article, by Sherry Linkon and John Russo of Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, is cross-posted from Working-Class Perspectives:

As we wrote in Steeltown USA: Work and Memory in Youngstown, Youngstown’s story is America’s story. That’s true now as we try to imagine American life after the pandemic. No doubt, coronavirus is a natural disaster that is more contagious, widespread, and deadly than the economic disaster of deindustrialization. But the struggles that Youngstown and similar Rust Belt cities faced after the plant closings of the late 1970s offer a stark warning: the economic crash hitting so many Americans now will have long-term costs. Youngstown’s story also makes clear that we can’t rely on private enterprise or individual effort to fix things.

As leaders debate when and how to reopen the American economy, some have warned that the economic crisis will lead to as many deaths as COVID-19. Our research on the social costs of deindustrialization suggests that although this economic displacement is not as lethal as the virus itself, if not adequately addressed, it will indeed cost lives. After deindustrialization left thousands without jobs, heart disease, strokes, and cancer rates increased in places like Youngstown.

So did mental health problems. A lost job doesn’t just mean lost wages, homelessness, or hunger – important as those material realities are. Laid-off workers also lose important networks and routines. For many, losing a job also means losing a sense of purpose and identity. Combine anxiety, isolation, and self-doubt with fear about an uncertain future, and it’s no wonder so many become depressed or seek relief from drugs or alcohol. As Anne Case and Angus Deaton’s by now familiar study of “deaths of despair” has shown, an uptick in alcoholism, addiction, and depression in the early 1980s eventually become an epidemic of disease, overdoses, and suicides.


Teixeira: How Far Ahead Is Biden?

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

Biden has been doing well in the polls, both national and state-level. Indeed the latter polls suggest Biden may be running even farther ahead nationally than we thought. That is Harry Enten’s argument in his latest CNN column.

“One of the big questions when we look at national polls is whether or not they’re an accurate representation of what is going on at the state level. One of the easiest ways to check is to compare state poll results to the past presidential vote in a given state. I did so for all telephone polls that called cell phones since the beginning of April.

When we average out these state polls, they suggest that Biden’s running about 6 points ahead of Hillary Clinton’s final margin.

In other words, the state level polls suggest that Biden has a national lead of around 8 points.

That’s actually a little greater than the 6.6 points Biden has in the high quality national polling average taken during the same period….

Additionally, we can look at states we expect to be at least somewhat competitive (i.e. those where the margin was within 10 points last time) and those that we don’t think will be close in 2020.

In the competitive states (where most of the state polling has been conducted), there has been an average swing of 6 points toward Biden compared to Clinton’s 2016 result. The same is true in the non-competitive states….

At least from this state level data, it does not seem that either candidate is running up the score disproportionately in areas that were already friendly to him….

We can test our data, too, to see what would happen if the polls are underestimating Trump like they did in 2016.

What I found was Biden would still be ahead, even with a 2016 sized mishap…..Concentrating on just the competitive states, the polls undersold Trump by 2 points (RealClearPolitics) or 3 points (FiveThirtyEight). If the polls in the competitive states were off by as much as they were at the end in 2016, Biden would still be ahead in states like Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania.”

The latter is a key point. At the moment Biden is running far enough ahead that even if the polls were off in a similar way to 2016, he would still win the electoral college.

I would also add that Enten’s higher estimate of Biden’s national lead is consistent with the lead we are seeing in the 85,000+ interview conducted by Nationscape since the beginning of the year.


Teixeira: The Kids Are All Right: Gen Z Edition

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

For all the attention paid to the Millennials, Gen Z (born after 1996) is coming up fast. They too will have a big effect on politics. As I have noted before, early data on the first tranche of Gen Z’ers coming into the electorate suggests that they will be as liberal as the Millennials and possibly more so.

This is confirmed by a new release from Pew that details some of this generation’s key views and preferences relative to older generations.

“One-in-ten eligible voters in the 2020 electorate will be part of a new generation of Americans – Generation Z. Born after 1996, most members of this generation are not yet old enough to vote, but as the oldest among them turn 23 this year, roughly 24 million will have the opportunity to cast a ballot in November. And their political clout will continue to grow steadily in the coming years, as more and more of them reach voting age….

Aside from the unique set of circumstances in which Gen Z is approaching adulthood, what do we know about this new generation? We know it’s different from previous generations in some important ways, but similar in many ways to the Millennial generation that came before it. Members of Gen Z are more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation, and they are on track to be the most well-educated generation yet. They are also digital natives who have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones.

Still, when it comes to their views on key social and policy issues, they look very much like Millennials. Pew Research Center surveys conducted in the fall of 2018 (more than a year before the coronavirus outbreak) among Americans ages 13 and older found that, similar to Millennials, Gen Zers are progressive and pro-government, most see the country’s growing racial and ethnic diversity as a good thing, and they’re less likely than older generations to see the United States as superior to other nations.1

A look at how Gen Z voters view the Trump presidency provides further insight into their political beliefs. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in January of this year found that about a quarter of registered voters ages 18 to 23 (22%) approved of how Donald Trump is handling his job as president, while about three-quarters disapproved (77%). Millennial voters were only slightly more likely to approve of Trump (32%) while 42% of Gen X voters, 48% of Baby Boomers and 57% of those in the Silent Generation approved of the job he’s doing as president.”

The Pew data on political preferences are supported by findings from the Nationscape survey. Nationscape data also show Gen Z’ers with even stronger pro-Biden and anti-Trump leanings than Millennials. This applies to both Gen Z as a whole and to the white subgroup of Gen Z, a fact of no small significance.


Political Strategy Notes

At CNN Politics, Harry Enten explains “Why Trump’s enthusiasm edge over Biden could matter,” and notes: “Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in pretty much every single national poll. Yet the same polls find that Trump’s supporters are much more enthusiasticabout voting for their candidate than Biden’s supporters are voting for theirs…This split is potentially a good sign for Trump because the candidate who has led on enthusiasm (or a closely related question) has won every presidential election since 1988, though there are reasons to think Biden could break this streak…Importantly for Trump, the leader on enthusiasm has gone on to win in close elections as well as ones with wider margins…One of those close elections was four years ago. Trump had a consistent edge over Hillary Clinton in enthusiasm. His voters were 4 points more likely to say they were very enthusiastic in voting for him than Clinton’s were for her in the final ABC News/Washington Post poll, even as Clinton led overall. That enthusiasm advantage should have been one of the warning signals to the Clinton campaign…Trump’s current edge in enthusiasm over Biden is even larger. In a late March ABC News/Washington Post poll, 53% of Trump backers said they were very enthusiastic about voting for him. Just 24% of Biden backers said the same about their guy.”

Brian Schwartz reports that “Mike Bloomberg plots spending blitz to support Joe Biden’s run for president” at cnbc.com: “Though it’s unclear how much Bloomberg will eventually spend, some of the people familiar with the matter noted that they anticipate Bloomberg to end up spending in excess of $250 million to support Biden, the apparent Democratic nominee. Any major financial support from Bloomberg backing Biden does not include what he could put toward assisting congressional Democrats. After dropping out of the Democratic primary for president in March, Bloomberg endorsed Biden and later announced his campaign would transfer $18 million to the DNC…The coronavirus pandemic has forced all campaigns to go virtual and, although Biden kept up with Trump in fundraising in April, raising $60.5 million, he is still behind in cash. The president’s campaign and the Republican National Committee have a combined $255 million in reserve. The Biden campaign told reporters on Friday that it had $103 million on hand at the end of April when combined with the DNC. ..Bloomberg’s team has previously said that he spent $110 million on Democrats throughout the 2018 congressional campaign…The former New York mayor has previously said he would not rule out spending up to $1 billion against Trump, whether he was running for president or not. Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, has said they plan to spend at least $1 billion defending the president and getting him reelected.”

“Biden needs something more than ritualistic endorsements from Democrats who feel they have no other choice, a home-studio campaign strategy, and the hope that Americans will remember that Trump peddled bleach as an antidote to the coronavirus. He needs a political party that is prepared to turn this campaign into a movement…the policy task forces announced this week by the Biden and Sanders camps hold out the promise that the party could in this period of social and economic crisis become something that the vast majority of Americans can believe in…What Democrats require is a coherent agenda, and a campaign, that breaks sufficiently from the old politics to capture the imagination of the American electorate at a time when the coronavirus pandemic and an economic meltdown preclude a return to normal. The party has to propose a new direction. And these task forces on the economy, immigration, health care, criminal justice, education, and climate action could do just that…Task forces are supposed to come up with ideas—ideally, new and innovative ideas. If Biden and his campaign let these groups do their work, and if the presumptive nominee and the party use the agendas that are developed as cues to move in a sufficiently progressive direction, Democrats might again be what they were in the days when Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal Coalition won overwhelming victories: the dynamic force in our politics and our governance.” From “A Progressive Democratic Party is Possible—and Biden Needs It to Win: The Biden-Sanders task forces are charged with framing a bigger, bolder Democratic agenda—exactly what the party needs to win” by John Nichols at The Nation.

Could ‘rogue electors’ tilt the balance of the US election?“, asks Lawrence Douglas at The Guardian. Douglas writes, “May states penalize and replace electors who fail to vote in accord with their states’ popular vote outcomes, or do such actions violate the right of electors to vote free of legal control?…That was the question debated before the supreme court this week in an extraordinary oral argument. At issue were a pair of cases emerging from the 2016 election, which witnessed no fewer than 10 electors either voting, or trying to vote, in defiance of their pledge. In Colorado, a state Hillary Clinton handily won, three Democratic electors sought to vote for the Ohio governor John Kasich as part of a long-shot effort to find a consensus alternative to Donald Trump. The Colorado secretary of state ordered the three to cast their votes as state law required or face replacement. Two of the electors complied; the third, a 23-year-old graduate student named Michael Baca, refused, and found himself replaced by a Democratic elector, who then promptly cast his vote for Clinton…32 states and the District of Columbia now have laws that aim to make sure that electors do not vote “freely” as they were originally intended…It seems safe to expect that the court – in a ruling to be issued this summer – will uphold the states’ authority to constrain presidential electors… In the absence of a law in place before electors cast their votes, it isn’t clear that a state could replace a faithless elector. A handful of rogue electors could hypothetically trigger a crisis of succession with no clear exit…Of course, the entire problem of the rogue elector could be more elegantly solved by simply abolishing the electoral college, but that would require a constitutional amendment, and the process of amending the constitution is no less dysfunctional than the electoral college itself. So the electoral college will probably remain our constitutional appendix, a vestigial organ that has long since lost its animating function and now can only create potentially toxic problems for the body politic.”

At salon.com, Cody Fenwick explores an alternative possibility in “Biden is a direct threat to Trump’s electoral college advantage: Many just assume that Trump will continue to have an advantage in Electoral College. Is that really so?” As Fenwick explains, “So how do we know who has an Electoral College advantage? The key is to look at the swing states…Since the demographics of Biden’s support look different than Clinton’s, though, Trump’s advantage is not guaranteed. And in a recent piece for David Faris in The Week, he argued that current polls show Biden actually has a very slight edge in the Electoral College…How does he come to this conclusion? He looked at Biden’s polling averages from FiveThirtyEight both nationally and across the swing states. And in the key states Biden would need to win the Electoral College, he’s polling just slightly better than he is nationally…Now for the caveats. State polling is spotty and inconsistent, and in 2016, it had serious flaws. It’s not clear those flaws have been corrected. So we can’t rely too heavily on the findings of these polls…But I think Faris’s argument compels us to reconsider the assumption that the Electoral College favors Trump. It might, and Trump might win a second term in November even while being defeated once again in the popular vote. But it’s not guaranteed that he still has this advantage — it may have already slipped away…It’s also important to note that, even accepting all of Faris’s data on its face, Biden’s Electoral College advantage is extremely narrow. He would be much less likely, according to this analysis, to lose the popular vote but win the presidency than Trump was in 2016.”

E. J. Dionne, Jr. weighs in on  the Electoral Collge in his column, “Grading the electoral college: C for chaos.” Dionne writes, “So all the claims about the electoral college reflecting the “wisdom of the Founders” and what they had in mind are pure rubbish. The Founders’ design failed, which is why it was changed just 16 years after the Constitution was adopted. And the states’ shift to the popular vote for electors so fundamentally altered the original scheme that it amounted to creating a new system in the garb of the old one…The case before the Supreme Court makes plain the absurdity of how we choose our president. The entire presidential campaign is waged on the premise that the people decide. And victors inevitably claim to be “the people’s choice” — even if they lose the popular vote…And it’s easy to envision a scenario this year in which Trump loses the popular vote by 5 million to 6 million — or even more — yet ekes out a two-vote margin in the electoral college by hanging on to every electoral vote he won in 2016 except for those of Pennsylvania and Michigan.”

In her Cook Political Report article, “Georgia Senate’s Perdue Moves to Lean Republican,” Jessica Taylor writes, “The conventional wisdom has been that it’s the Loeffler seat that is more vulnerable, and thus more appealing to Democrats as a possible pick-up to attain (or even add to) a Senate majority. Given the weaknesses that Loeffler has shown as a candidate and questions about her and her husband’s stock transactions, she is facing pressure from both her right (from Rep. Doug Collins) and from several on the left (the DSCC has backed Rev. Raphael Warnock). The added uncertainty of a jungle primary on Election Day that isn’t likely to be decided until the runoff on January 5, 2021 is why we have this race in the Lean Republican column…A May 4-7 poll from Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies (conducted for a group supporting Gov. Brian Kemp, who appointed Loeffler to her post) found that Perdue was leading Democrat Jon Ossoff by only two points, 43%-41%, with Libertarian Shane Hazel getting 7% and 8% undecided. The same GOP poll also found a statistical tie in the presidential race, with Trump at 46% and Biden at 47%…Those tightening numbers are in line with another survey from Republican firm Cygnal, conducted April 25-27 for the Georgia House GOP caucus, which gave Perdue a six-point lead over Ossoff, 45%-39%. Both Democrats and Republicans privately believe this is a single-digit race, though Perdue still maintains the advantage.”

Also at The Cook Political Report, Charlie Cook comments on the Georgia races in his article “Why We’re Not Ready to Call Georgia a Toss Up“: As Cook observes, “There’s little doubt that Georgia is becoming more competitive. While Mitt Romney carried the state in 2012 by 53 percent, both Trump and 2018 GOP nominee, Brian Kemp, took just over 50 percent of the vote. A lot of this movement can be traced to shifting voting patterns in and around Atlanta. For example, in 2012, Obama carried Fulton County (Atlanta) by 19 points. Just four years later, Clinton carried it by a whopping 44 points and Abrams expanded that gap to 46 points. Suburban Gwinnett and Cobb Counties, long known as traditional GOP strongholds, flipped to Clinton in 2016 and gave even more of their votes to Abrams in 2018…Even so, it will take more than just an improvement in the Atlanta and urban/suburban areas of the state to flip it Democratic. It also takes shaving points off the large share of the vote Republicans like Trump and Kemp can generate from small town, exurban and rural parts of the state. Biden supporters argue that the former VP is much better suited for this challenge than Clinton or Abrams. He’s not as polarizing and starts the race with higher positive ratings than Clinton…For Democrats, winning Georgia is like trying to lose those last 5-10 pounds. On paper, it doesn’t seem all that hard. But, once you spend two weeks desperately looking down at a scale that doesn’t budge, you realize it’s going to take a ton of effort to lose each and every pound. For now, Georgia stays in Lean Republican. ”

“As of today, 490 women have filed as candidates for U.S. House seats, a new record high,” according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. This surpasses even the record- breaking 2018 midterm election, in which 476 women filed to run for House seats. In 14 states, filing deadlines have yet to pass…295 Democratic women have filed as candidates in House races. They are on track to modestly improve on their own high for House candidacies, which was set in 2018 at 356.” At present, there are 26 women serving as U.S. Senators, including 19 Democats and 9 Republicans, the Center reports and 31 Democratic women are running for Senate in 2020. At present, 88 Democratic women currently hold House of Reps seats, while 6 Democratic women currently serve as Governors, with 3 Republican women.


Democratic Prospects in the State Legislatures

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Chaz Nuttycombe shares an insightful update on the battle for control of the 50 state legislatures, which is under-reported by major media. Nuttycombe, director of the election forecasting group CNalysis.com, writes:

With more than 5,000 districts at stake this year, there are many opportunities at the state level for either party to maintain or improve their advantage. We at CNalysis acknowledge the importance of these elections; we are currently casting ratings for most of these districts — 5,233 to be exact — as well as their respective state legislative chambers.

The consequences of state legislative control are enormously significant, including gerrymandering and and prospects for a broad range of social reforms at the state level, including health care, environmental protection and voting rights, to name just a few areas of critical concern.

Nuttycombe notes that “that there are only two states where party control of chambers is divided: In Minnesota, Democrats control the state House and Republicans hold the state Senate, while in Alaska, Republicans hold the state Senate while Democrats nominally control the state House thanks to a coalition of Democrats, Republicans and Independents (Republicans actually hold more seats in the chamber).” Here’s the map depicting the current line-up:

He notes further that “Overall, Republicans control 58 chambers, and Democrats control 40. Again, this tally excludes Nebraska,” while “Republicans have 20 trifectas [governors as well as majorities in both state legislative chambers], Democrats have 15, and 14 states are split. Again, Nebraska is excluded, but functionally the state could be counted as one where Republicans control both the governorship and legislature.”

But looking towards the November elections, “While Republicans hold an advantage in the number of chambers they control, the certainty of Republicans maintaining such a lopsided control of chambers is not assured…there are 11 competitive chambers remaining: nine held by Republicans, and just two held by Democrats.” Also, “Currently in the CNalysis forecast of over 5,000 single-member state legislative districts, Democrats are favored to have a net gain of 11 state Senate seats, and Republicans are favored to net 11 state House seats. Given how many seats are being contested, this would be a very modest shift in seats…only about 20% of all the districts are competitive, with the remainder either safe for one party or the other or uncontested.” In addition,

Minnesota is the greatest opportunity for Democrats to create a trifecta in state governments this year, with only the state Senate standing in their way. North Carolina and New Hampshire double as trifecta opportunities for both parties, because both states have competitive state legislative chambers and gubernatorial races. Alaska Republicans only have to flip the state House to create a trifecta in the state, though that will depend on how they fare against Republicans in the chamber who caucus with the Democrat-aligned majority coalition (more on that here).

As Nuttycombe sees Democratic goals in state legislatures for 2020:

Create more Democratic trifectas and create divided governments in Republican trifectas.

— Keep and expand their current projected net gain in state Senate seats by mostly flipping Clinton-won suburban seats that haven’t had an election since 2016, and minimize damage in state House seats.

— Continue to gain in suburban areas they gained in in the 2018 midterms and defend their earnings mostly in those areas from that election.

It seems like a realistic and achievable agenda, one which depends upon the commitment of the Democratic state parties and their ability to educate and mobilize voters.


Major-Party Unity Means Less Oxygen for Minor Parties

In a continuing effort to show that 2020 is not just another 2016, I wrote about minor-party candidates at New York:

To put it mildly, the 2020 presidential contest is being haunted by what happened in 2016. For one thing, it helps explain the widespread belief that Donald Trump will win despite considerable evidence inimical to his cause, whether that belief is based on mistrust of polls, or observation of the enthusiasm of his base, or the suspicion that he sold his soul to the Infernal Lord Satan in exchange for earthly power.

There is one particular element of the 2016 experience, however, that may be less compelling than others looking ahead to November: the strength of minor political parties, which had a boffo year last time around. As I noted recently, there are multiple reasons for expecting a considerably diminished showing by the Greens, the Libertarians, and other minor parties in November, ranging from less-well-known presidential candidates to the impact of the coronavirus on ballot access in states where numerous petitions must be gathered. Justin Amash’s recently announced Libertarian candidacy could boost that party’s vote a bit, particularly in his home state of Michigan. But as Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman argue in a new analysis at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, there’s another big reason we can expect minor-party voting to decline: The major parties are significantly more united than they were in 2016:

“[T]he top election on this list [of strong third-party performances]— 1912 — is the cleanest example of a divided party leading to the rise of a big third party vote. Theodore Roosevelt, upset with the performance of his Republican successor, William Howard Taft, tried to win the GOP nomination. He was rebuffed, so he created his own party and ran for president. The Republican vote splintered, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the presidency easily despite getting only 42% of the vote.

“But we can also see this phenomenon in some of these other elections.

“George Wallace, the conservative, segregationist Democrat who ran third party in 1968, ran strongest in the South, the conservative region that had once formed the backbone of the Democratic Party but was in the midst of breaking away from its ancestral party over the party’s leftward evolution on civil rights and other issues.”

The biggest third-party showings preceded major-party splits or transitions, including Wallace’s (four years later the once-solid Democratic South had become solidly Republican in voting to reelect Richard Nixon). And there was quite a bit of noisy intraparty opposition to both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton four years ago. In the current race, that has mostly subsided:

“This naturally removes some of the oxygen for third party candidates, and the lack of major intraparty strife makes this election, to us, more reminiscent of 2004 and 2012, when George W. Bush and Barack Obama won second terms in competitive elections that featured very low levels of third party voting. Indeed, in 2012, Florida was the only state were neither major party candidate took a majority of the vote — by 2016, there were 14 states where both major candidates polled under 50%.”

There’s another factor that may strengthen party unity while discouraging “protest votes.” Just about everyone expects a close election, and those who thought Clinton had it in the bag in 2016 and voted third-party (or stayed home) may be particularly immune to minor-party siren songs. The above-mentioned Democrats who are still shocked by what happened four years ago may put on the party harness and never even consider taking it off:

“This time, even though Trump generally trails nationally and in at least some of the most important swing states, he still is favored by betting markets, and he usually does better in polls asking people who they believe will win as opposed to those that ask who voters are supporting. Democrats, burned by expectations in 2016, likely will remain guarded no matter what the polls say.”

There’s a lot of uncertainty going into this election, much of it associated with how little we know about the trajectory of the coronavirus, the economic damage it has wrought, and how COVID-19 will affect voter turnout. But the odds are higher than ever that any “swing” vote late in the game will be oscillating between the Donkey and Elephant brands.


Political Strategy Notes

Partisanship is the strongest predictor of coronavirus response: Among Americans, partisanship has been a stronger predictor than age, gender, geography, even personal experience, a study shows,” David Roberts reports at vox.com. Roberts adds, “A bit of research, published in March, from three leading political scientists shows pretty convincingly that, in the face of the pandemic, Republicans and Democrats are once again hearing different things, forming different understandings, and reacting in different ways.” Roberts quotes Shana Kushner Gadarian, Sara Wallace Goodman, and Thomas Pepinsky — political scientists at Syracuse University, UC Irvine, and Cornell respectively, who note, “Republicans are less likely than Democrats to report responding with CDC-recommended behavior, and are less concerned about the pandemic, yet are more likely to support policies that restrict trade and movement across borders as a response to it. Democrats, by contrast, have responded by changing their personal health behaviors, and supporting policies that socialize the costs of testing and treatment. Partisanship is a more consistent predictor of behaviors, attitudes, and preferences than anything else that we measure….What we find is that even when you account for the zip codes people live in, i.e., their actual level of exposure to the disease.”

Charlie Cook shares his insights concerning “Where Things Stand for the 2020 Elections” at The Cook Political Report: “Not long ago, GOP chances of maintaining their control of the Senate looked to be about two out of three, but Senate Editor Jessica Taylor’s reporting since March shows that Republican Senate majority is getting more precarious and now control appears to be a 50-50 proposition.  Now with popular Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock challenging GOP incumbent Steve Daines in Montana, newly-appointed Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler mired in a horrific political situation and the possibility that Republicans could draw an exceedingly weak candidate in what should be a safe seat in Kansas (filing deadline June 1), among other problems adding to previous woes with incumbents Martha McSally in Arizona, Susan Collins in Maine, Cory Gardner in Colorado and North Carolina’s Thom Tillis all in races that are, at best, toss ups.”

“Combine those two Congressional situations with a recession that has effectively eliminated any tailwind that President Trump had been enjoying from a strong economy,” Cook adds, “and it is hard to see his re-election prospects looking anything but more dire by the week. Today there is more than a one-in-three chance that Democrats will win a trifecta in November, the White House, the Senate and the House.  The policy and governing implications are enormous…Keep in mind that these outcomes are not independent of each other, a Trump victory would be more likely to be accompanied by retention of the Senate, a Trump defeat would raise the odds of Democrats taking over the Senate.  This isn’t ‘coattails,” (I don’t believe in coattails), but the turnout dynamics, the issue agenda and priorities and the political environment that would exist to re-elect, or defeat Trump would also be in place for a Senate that is already teetering on the edge.  Our system isn’t quite parliamentary but is getting increasingly more so, the linkage is greater, the ticket-splitting diminishing.”

Republicans are slapping high-fives over their Tuesday win in CA-25 special. But in her CNN Politics article, “Republicans win back California House seat they lost in 2018 after Democrat concedes,” Clare Foran explains why Dems just lost the seat: “The win came after Democrat Christy Smith conceded to Republican Mike Garcia on Wednesday in the special election for seat left vacant when Katie Hill, a Democrat, resigned amid controversy last year.” However, “there will be a rematch. That’s because Smith and Garcia are still running as candidates for a November general election to decide who holds the seat in the next session of Congress.” Dems hope, not without reason, that an anti-Trump landslide in November will give Smith enough leverage to take back the House seat.

So how progressive is former Vice President Biden” Here’s an excerpt from a New York Magazine article by Gabriel Debenedetti, flagged by Ruy Teixeira: “Long before the pandemic, [Biden] described a range of actions he’d take on day one, from rejoining the Paris climate agreement to signing executive orders on ethics, and he cited other matters, like passing the Equality Act for LGBTQ protections, as top priorities…To date, the federal government has spent more than $2 trillion on the coronavirus stimulus — nearly three times what it approved in 2009. Biden wants more spending. “A hell of a lot bigger,” he’s said, “whatever it takes.” He has argued that, even if you’re inclined to worry about the deficit, massive public investment is the only thing capable of growing the economy enough “so the deficit doesn’t eat you alive.” He has talked about funding immense green enterprises and larger backstop proposals from cities and states and sending more relief checks to families. He has urged immediate increases in virus and serology testing, proposing the implementation of a Pandemic Testing Board in the style of FDR’s War Production Board and has called for investments in an “Apollo-like moonshot” for a vaccine and treatment. And he floated both the creation of a 100,000-plus worker Public Health Jobs Corps and the doubling of the number of OSHA investigators to protect employees amid the pandemic. If he were president now, he said in March, he would demand paid emergency sick leave for anyone in need and mandate that no one would have to pay for coronavirus testing or treatment. As the crisis deepened, he said he would forgive federal student-loan debt — $10,000 per person, minimum — and add $200 a month to Social Security checks.”

‘Tis a pity that Sen. Richard Burr (NC) is not up for re-election in November, in light of the buzz around todays’ revelations that he, not only had his phone confiscated by the F.B.I. as part of an investigation into alleged trading of 33 stock sales after his coronavirus briefing; he just stepped down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the wake of it. As Christina Wilkie reports at cnbc.com, “On Feb. 13, Burr sold stocks worth $630,000 to $1.7 million in a one-day sale involved 33 individual trades. One week later, markets began a steep slide as investors panicked over the potential economic damage from coronavirus.” No doubt, NC Dems are hoping the GOP stench will stick on Burr’s fellow Republican Senator Tom Tillis, who is up for re-election in November, but is not at this time implicated in insider stock deals. Insider trading allegations have also tainted Georgia’s two Republican Senators, both of whom are up in November.

Although the national focus is on Covid-19 health care concerns, health insecurity in general remains a central concern for growing numbers of Americans. As Erin Schumaker of ABC News reports that “Soaring unemployment numbers could translate into nearly 27 million people losing their health insurance, according to a new report…”Between March 1st and May 2nd, 2020, more than 31 million people had filed for unemployment insurance,” notes the Kaiser Family Foundation report, which was released Wednesday…Eight states including California, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia, Florida, Michigan and Ohio will account for roughly half of the people who lost health insurance they previously had through their job, the report estimated…Before the pandemic, 1 in 3 Americans said that they wouldn’t be able to pay a $400 medical bill without selling their belongings or borrowing money.”

Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman explain why “Why 2020’s Third Party Share Should Be Lower Than 2016” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Despite — or perhaps because of — the relatively high share of the vote third party candidates received in 2016, we expect the two major parties to have a better showing in 2020…Voters generally feel better about their major party nominees this year than they did in 2016, leaving third party options with less of a raison d’etre…The field of third party candidates this year doesn’t seem especially strong, and even when prominent names have launched third party bids recently, they’ve struggled to gain traction — even in their home states…The public health crisis could make it harder for third party candidates to get on some state ballots.”

Also at the Crystal Ball, Kondik and Coleman note that incumbent Governors are also in a position to benefit politically from the Covid-19 pandemic, because “Many state governors have received high marks for their handling of coronavirus…Three of them on the ballot this November get a boost in our gubernatorial ratings this week…As of now, the open seat in Montana seems to be the seat likeliest to change hands on the relatively sparse presidential-year gubernatorial map.” Republicans now hold 26 governorships, compared to 24 for Democrats, with 11 governorships up for election in November. Kondik and Coleman write that “Democrats probably would be relieved to get out of 2020 holding as many governorships as they do now.”


Unclear What Trump Gains From “Obamagate”

After puzzling over our president’s latest wild twitter-storm, I offered some thoughts at New York:

It’s a well-established fact of contemporary politics that partisan polarization has reached the point where “base mobilization” has become more important than swing-voter persuasion in winning close elections. And a supreme emphasis on the Republican base has been particularly notable in Trumpworld, with its strategy of scorching the ground between the two parties and demonizing the opposition.

From that perspective, the cluster of revisionist-history lessons and conspiracy theories the president likes to call “Obamagate” has been especially useful, in that it provides an innocent explanation for many of the very bad things Trump himself has been credibly accused of doing. Tim Miller provides a simple explanation of Obamagate:

“Four years ago, there was a global conspiracy — comprised of President Obama, Vice-President Biden, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director Jim Comey, much of the FBI, the DNC, a company called CrowdStrike, multiple foreign-intelligence services, and Ukrainian oligarchs — to undermine Donald Trump by planting a phony conspiracy theory that he was colluding with the Russians to win the 2016 election. These deep-state operators framed several top Trump officials, fabricated evidence, and spied on the campaign with the end goal of committing the biggest fraud in American history in order to derail Trump.”

In one fell swoop, “Obamagate” turns Trump from a sleazy practitioner of corrupt and arguably unpatriotic campaign tactics into a victim of those same tactics, perpetrated by a “deep state” liberal Establishment whose depredations account for virtually every negative “story” coming out of the Trump administration from the day it took power. As House Republicans argued vociferously during the impeachment proceedings against Trump late last year, this conspiracy not only cooked up the findings of the Mueller investigation (to the extent said investigation didn’t exonerate Trump), but also the Ukraine scandal involving Trump’s efforts to smear Joe Biden, which got it all exactly backward.

Instead of serving as an alternative account of recent history that undermines the conventional understanding of Trump as a scofflaw who would do anything to seize or retain power, Obamagate in Trump’s own hands looks to be a wild and insanely complicated tale of liberal perfidy, by which the 45th president accuses the 44th president of perpetrating “the biggest political crime in American history, by far!”

As David Frum notes, Obamagate is so complicated and implausible that it cannot possibly serve as a persuasive argument for Trump’s reelection:

“The ‘Obamagate’ that Trump tweets about — like the comic-book universes on which it seems to be modeled — is a tangle of backstories. The main characters do things for reasons that make no objective sense, things that can be decoded only by obsessive superfans on long Reddit threads.

“So you’re saying that the deep state set up this whole elaborate plot to entrap Trump, but instead of using any of that material, it instead sabotaged Hillary Clinton ten days before the election?

“No, no, you don’t get it. You’ve gotta go back to the Benghazi episode four seasons back. Well, really to Troopergate, but that’s only available on DVD …”

It all makes sense in MAGA-land, but does Trump really need any enhancement of his support in those regions? As Obamagate becomes an ever-more-complicated tale, is anyone going to read it other than those who are already convinced of its veracity and importance?

Probably not. And that makes you wonder if Trump is drinking his own Kool-Aid, and shirking swing-voter persuasion in an endless effort to fire up troops who are already psyched out of their skulls. Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade says Trump wants this election to be “Obama against Trump” rather than “Biden against Trump.” What is he thinking? Obama is a lot more popular than either 2020 candidate. But the Tea Party–turned-MAGA folk from whom Trump draws his energy are still hating on the 44th president in a way that probably mystifies swing voters. The 45th president doesn’t seem to care. It could be a fatal mistake.


Teixeira: ‘A Pox on Both Their Houses…..and I’m Voting for Biden!’

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

The data keep rolling in that Biden is flipping a pattern from 2016 that really hurt Clinton. In that election,those voters that didn’t like either candidate voted lopsidedly for Trump. This year, as David Siders notes in a useful article on Politico, it’s the reverse: voters who don’t like either candidate say they’ll vote for Biden by a wide margin. I checked this pattern on the Nationscape data (85,000+ cases since the beginning of the year) and find strong confirmation: voters unfavorable to both candidates prefer Biden by 35 points (55-20).

From the Siders article:

“Unlike in 2016, when a large group of voters who disliked both Trump and Hillary Clinton broke sharply for Trump, the opposite is happening now, according to public polling and private surveys conducted by Republicans and Democrats alike.

It’s a significant and often underappreciated group of voters. Of the nearly 20 percent of voters who disliked both Clinton and Trump in 2016, Trump outperformed Clinton by about 17 percentage points, according to exit polls.

Four years later, that same group — including a mix of Bernie Sanders supporters, other Democrats, disaffected Republicans and independents — strongly prefers Biden, the polling shows. The former vice president leads Trump by more than 40 percentage points among that group, which accounts for nearly a quarter of registered voters, according to a Monmouth University poll last week.

“It’s a huge difference,” said Patrick Murray, who oversees the Monmouth poll. “That’s a group that if you don’t like either one of them, you will vote against the status quo. And in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton represented more of the status quo than Trump did. In this current election, the status quo is Donald Trump.”


Gardner and Greenberg: The partisan polarization of the pandemic CVI tracking, wave 2: April 31-May 5

The following memo by Page Gardner of the Center for Voter Information and Stanley Greenberg of Greenberg Research & Democracy Corps is cross-posted from DCorps:

The Tea Party-Trump Republican Party was forced to lead the country’s response to the pandemic and that accelerated the polarization of the country and marginalization of the GOP — at a very high human cost. Donald Trump took leadership of a modern Republican Party shaped profoundly by the Tea Party revolt against Barack Obama, government health care, and immigration. They sought to gridlock government and polarize America. Now, Trump leads an anti-government party that has been forced to oversee the biggest expansion of regulation and government since World War II.

Trump has cheered governors opening up the economy and protestors liberating their states, and the country and some Republicans fear this will prove tragic.

Fully two-thirds of the country and half of Republicans reacted with horror to the anti-stay-at-home demonstrators who looked a lot like the Tea Party movement protest in 2009 and 2010. Over 60 percent are intensely negative and that leads into the effectiveness of the strongest attack this poll tested against the president. It raised serious doubts for half the country, and left the Tea Party Republicans pretty isolated.

These findings come from the 2nd tracking survey sponsored by CVI, using 2,000 on-line interviews, weighted to match the baseline of mostly cell-phone surveys conducted over last two months.

And in states where Republicans have full control of the governorship and legislature, pro-Trump governors moved to open up their economies — led by Governor Kemp in Georgia, Governor DeSantis in Florida and Governor Abbot in Texas. Just 31 percent responded warmly to those governors, and 51 percent coolly, with about 15 percent unsure of what to make of them.

(Continued here)