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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

November 14, 2019

Trump Alienates Evangelical Supporters With Syria Policy

There was a lot of attention given in the media to GOP heartburn about Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds in Syria. But there was another angle that I wrote up at New York:

No one should have been surprised by the fury that arose in congressional Republican circles over the president’s green light to his fellow authoritarian, Recep Erdogan, for a Turkish invasion of Syria. Most of them, after all, have never bought into Trump’s particular Jacksonian mix of militaristic bluster and non-interventionism, reflected in his alternating desires to get U.S. troops out of Syria or deploy them to kill everything that moves. Traditional Republicans, moreover, feel a strong sense of attachment to the Kurds, U.S. allies in the Iraq War (which Trump considers a disaster pursued by losers) and the fight against ISIS (which Trump considers his own personal triumph, not to be shared with foreigners). The most unexpected thing, indeed, is that Trump chose to infuriate Republicans just when he needs them most in the battle against impeachment and the 2020 election. This is not the sort of statement he needs right now from the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham:

“Graham, who has been one of President Trump’s strongest allies in the Senate, on Wednesday said Kurdish fighters in Syria had been ‘shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration’ in its sudden decision to pull U.S. troops from northern Syria, leaving America’s longtime allies in the fight against the Islamic State group exposed to an attack by Turkey.

“’I hope he’s right — I don’t think so. I know that every military person has told him don’t do this,’ Graham said in an appearance on ‘Fox & Friends. “If he follows through with this, it’d be the biggest mistake of his presidency.”

But if old-school neoconservative hawkishness explains part of the bad reaction Trump got for his invitation to Erdogan, there’s a separate reason that leaders representing another important slice of the MAGA coalition. Conservative Evangelicals have rebelled — some even more angrily than Graham — including the ancient Christian Right warhorse, Pat Robertson, as the Washington Post reports:


Teixeira: Can Dems Win NC’s Electoral College Votes?

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

Could the Democrats Take North Carolina in 2020?

Their chances may be better than you think. From the latest Public Policy Polling North Carolina (note: not an outlier compared to other recent NC polls):

“46% of voters approve of the job Trump is doing to 51% who disapprove of him, in a state that he took by 4 points in 2016. 48% of voters support impeaching Trump, with an equal 48% opposed. At this point disapproval for Trump and support for impeaching Trump have become almost the same thing- only 7% of voters who disapprove of Trump are opposed to impeaching him.

We tested the 5 leading Democratic candidates in head to heads with Trump and he trails 3 of them, while it’s very close against the other two. Joe Biden has a 5 point advantage at 51-46, Elizabeth Warren has a 3 point advantage at 49-46, and Bernie Sanders is up 50-47. Trump and Kamala Harris tie at 47, and Trump has a slight advantage over Pete Buttigieg at 47-46. It’s notable that regardless of the Democrat he’s tested against, Trump always polls at 46-47% in North Carolina.”

Of course, it won’t be easy. Here’s my take on the challenges involved.

Hillary Clinton lost North Carolina by just under 4 points in 2016. This follows Obama’s narrow 2-point loss in 2012 and even narrower victory by one-third of a percentage point in 2008. All these performances were dramatically better for the Democrats compared to losing the state by 12 points in 2004 and 13 points in 2000.

Democrats made some progress in the state in 2018. They did relatively well in the House popular vote, losing it by under 2 points–though they did not succeed in flipping any GOP-held House seats. But they flipped a net of 16 state legislative seats and broke Republican supermajorities in both chambers. This is of considerable significance since North Carolina’s governor is currently a Democrat.

These trends give the Democrats hope they can take the state in 2020. The Trump campaign, on the other hand, is well prepared to defend North Carolina’s 15 electoral voters—essential for their coalition—even though Trump’s current net job approval rating in the state is in danger territory.

North Carolina’s large nonwhite population accounted for 28 percent of voters in 2016. As in Georgia, Blacks in North Carolina dominate the nonwhite vote: 22 percent of all voters, compared to 3 percent for Hispanics and just under 4 percent for Asians/other race. Blacks supported Clinton by 76 points, Hispanics by 15 points and Asians/other race by 2 points. White college graduates in North Carolina, 28 percent of voters, supported Clinto, but it was close, giving her a 4-point advantage, 49-45 percent. White non-college voters, 43 percent of the voting electorate, on the other hand, gave him a whopping advantage of 51 points, 74-23 percent.

We expect white non-college eligible voters in 2020 to decline over 2 points relative to 2016, while white college graduates should go up very slightly. Hispanics should increase a point, Black eligible voters by half a point and Asians/other race also by half a point. If 2016 voting patterns remain the same these underlying demographic changes in the eligible electorate would be enough to reduce the Democratic candidate’s projected 2020 deficit in the state by almost 2 points.

As with Georgia, given the relative closeness of Trump’s victory in 2016 plus the projected impact of demographic change, Trump probably needs to go beyond holding his 2016 levels of group support. Increasing his margin among white college voters by 10 points would yield a 5 point victory in 2020, all else equal, while increasing his already-huge lead among white non-college voters by the same amount would project to a 6 point margin.

For the Democratic candidate, the Black vote, as in Georgia, will have great importance. If Black turnout in 2020 matches 2012 levels (there was a large decline in 2016) that would actually project to a Democratic victory of just under a percentage point, all else equal. Matching Black support to 2012 levels would further boost the Democrats’ margin. A 10-point pro-Democratic margin shift among North Carolina’s liberalizing white college graduate population—going from +4 to +14—would project to a narrow victory of the same magnitude as the increased Black turnout scenario. Decreasing Trump’s very large white non-college margin by 10 points would project to a larger victory.

So those are the parameters of battle. Let the jousting begin!


Political Strategy Notes

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall discusses “flashing yellow lights Democrats may want to consider before proclaiming victory” in his column about Stanley Greenberg’s pediction of the collapse of the Republican Party in his book, “R.I.P. G.O.P.: How The New America Is Dooming the Republicans.”  Edsall addresses some of the challenges facing Democrats in building a working majority coalition that can both win elections and govern, and shares some provocative insights of political analysts, strategists and academics along the way. I liked strategist Paul Begala’s “I am deeply concerned about Democratic presidential candidates getting too far over their ski tips” and his urging them to “tell voters that Trump has proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. I did not hear one candidate raise that in the last Democratic debate, but it is the issue most likely to defeat Trump.”

Washington Post syndicaed columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains why “Trump’s conviction in the Senate is unlikely — but possible.” Dionne observes that “A Post-Schar School poll last week found 28 percent of Republicans supporting the House impeachment inquiry, while an astonishing 18 percent said they favored removing Trump from office…No matter how much Trump baits them, congressional Democrats have to combine toughness with sobriety…The nation, judging from the polls, is moving in their direction. This is not the result of any flights of rhetorical genius or brilliant political strategy. It’s happening because the more voters (including Republicans) know about what Trump actually did, the more they realize how unfit he is to be president…Of course House Democrats must fight Trump’s obstruction. But they cannot let him entangle them in abstruse debates over procedures. Their legitimate anger over the corrupt absurdity of the president’s claims should not move them toward theatrical excesses that will only give Trump more openings for deflection and evasion…And they must bear in mind that the final jury in The People v. Trump is still more likely to be an informed electorate than a supine and fearful U.S. Senate.”

At CNN politics Paul LeBlanc reports that “More than half of US voters want President Donald Trump impeached and removed from office, according to a Fox News Poll out on Wednesday.” However, adds LeBlanc, “The poll marks the fourth in two days that showed public opinion is shifting on the impeachment inquiry. Digging deeper, “The Fox News poll found 51% of registered voters want Trump impeached and removed from office and another 4% want the President impeached but not removed from office. Forty percent of respondents were opposed to impeachment altogether…The poll also showed an increase in support for impeachment across a number of demographics compared with July. Support for impeachment was up 11 points among Democrats, 5 points among Republicans and 3 points among independents…Impeachment support was up 5 points among evangelical Christians and 8 points among white men without college degrees — two constituencies key to Trump’s 2016 election.”

So, “What’s Behind Elizabeth Warren’s Rise In The Polls?” At FiveThirtEight, Geoffrey Skelley shares “Four possible explanations for her upward trajectory,” including “in Quinnipiac’s latest survey, Warren had 26 percent support among non-college whites, which put her in a near-tie with Biden at 27 percent and ahead of Sanders’s 19 percent. By comparison, in Quinnipiac’s late-August survey, Warren had 20 percent to Biden’s 30 percent among non-college whites and was roughly tied with Sanders, who had 19 percent support among that group…Fox News also found a slight improvement in Warren’s support among white voters without a college degree in its September survey: 19 percent support, compared to 15 percent in August, and she now sits just 5 percentage points behind Biden. Granted, these aren’t huge shifts we’re talking about — and we should be cautious with reading too much into the crosstabs because they have larger margins of error than the overall sample — but the trend has been consistent across a number of recent polls. Monmouth also found Warren’s support among voters (of all races) without a four-year degree went up from 17 percent in August to 24 percent in late September.”

“It would be foolish for Democrats to pin hopes for 2020 on carrying Texas,” Matthew Yglesias writes at Vox. “Still, Texas is a very large and diverse state that contains plenty of opportunities for progressive politics — which could have real impacts on many people’s lives. The key for Democrats is to have realistic expectations to participate intelligently and effectively.” in his Senate race, Yglesias notes, “O’Rourke lost by 3 percentage points, doing about 6 points better than Clinton did in Texas in 2016. But House Democrats won the national popular vote by 8 percentage points — also 6 points better than Clinton…That’s not to deny that O’Rourke ran an impressive race — taking on an incumbent senator is difficult, especially in a larger, expensive state with minimal party infrastructure. But that impressive race confirms that the only way Texas is in play in 2020 is if the national political environment amounts to a huge Democratic landslide, the equivalent of Barack Obama randomly winning Indiana in 2008 along with all the actual swing states.”

Yglesias continues, “Opportunities start with the US House of Representatives, where Democrats picked up two seats in tough 2018 races…They have one excellent pickup opportunity in the border district being vacated by Rep. Will Hurd and a couple of other long shots that are at least plausible…That’s a critical congressional battleground for 2020.What’s more, due to what looks in retrospect like the unintended consequences of gerrymandering, O’Rourke actually carried a majority of districts in the lower house of the Texas state legislature. Democrats need to pick up nine seats there to flip the chamber, which is unquestionably a tall order. But given O’Rourke’s results, it’s not out of the question that it could happen…After the 2020 Census, Texas is going to get at least two and possibly three new US House seats. If Democrats were able to win a state legislative chamber and have a seat at the redistricting table, that would be a huge opportunity. And even if they don’t, there’s just no way to avoid drawing some of those new seats into Texas’ newly competitive suburban landscape…The key, though, is to recognize that while these are winnable races, we are talking about constituencies that are more conservative than the US average — places where successful progressive candidates would need to pick their battles carefully, rather than signing on to the entire laundry list of activist demands. That’s especially true because every governor’s mansion can be contestable, as long as you’re willing to be realistic about it.”

Yglesias adds that  “there is no state with a larger pool of uninsured people than Texas, and the failure to expand Medicaid there is the reason. Winning a governor’s race there and expanding Medicaid is the critical element to dramatically expanding health coverage in the United States, as well as dozens of other topics that are critical to Texas’s large low-income population…Getting the job done, though, would require recognizing that winning statewide races in Texas is an uphill battle for Democrats, who aren’t going to carry the state with a message as progressive as could be viable nationally. The state has become moderate enough that it’d be a shame not to make a serious effort to win in down-ballot races, but it’s not nearly blue enough to just throw caution to the wind. Texas is a Texas-sized opportunity for progressive causes, but to seize it requires realism as much as enthusiasm.”

In his Washington Monthly post, “The Voting Wars Come to Campus,” Daniel Block writes “In New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, and Arizona—all presidential battlegrounds—Republican-controlled legislatures have created particular obstacles for college voters. And yet, in the midst of this clampdown, there are clear signs that students and schools are surmounting voting barriers and countering their impact—and not just in Texas. At Arizona State University in Tempe, for example, despite a restrictive voter ID law and new limits on mail-in ballot collection, student voting rates went up by double digits between 2012 and 2016...That’s because at institutions like UT Austin and ASU Tempe, students and staff work to make registering and voting as easy as possible, even as Texas and Arizona have made it harder. They find new, creative ways of registering students. They explain complex voting requirements. They work with local officials to increase polling access on campus. In doing so, they are supported by a growing network of national organizations that provide funding, share information, and help schools develop plans to simplify getting out the vote. (The Washington Monthly incorporates data from these organizations in its college rankings. Both UT Austin and ASU Tempe received perfect scores.)…These efforts appear to be making a difference. Nationwide, college voting rates increased by more than three percentage points between 2012 and 2016, more than the overall turnout increase. Between 2014 and 2018, youth turnout rose by nearly a third.”

At The American Prospect, Robert Reich spotlights some of the false choices he believes Democrats are arguing about heading into the 2020 elections. “Something else I’m hearing is that the contest is between someone who’s a moderate and a candidate who’s on the left. Well, that’s rubbish. All the babble about moderate or left assumes we’re back in the old politics where the central question was the size of government…But today the real contest is between the people and the powerful—the vast majority of Americans versus an oligarchy that’s amassed most of the nation’s wealth and power…So don’t accept false choices about who’s electable versus who has ideas, who’s moderate versus who’s on the left, or whether we need to go back to the way it was before Trump…In reality, what’s going to beat Trump are new ideas that mobilize America, that let Americans see what the wealthy and powerful who bankroll Trump have done to this nation, and get us looking forward to what America should be rather than backward to an America that was never as good as it could be.”


GOP Rigging Nomination Contest for Trump

This development, which has recently become more interesting, drew my attention for a piece at New York:

[T]he Republican Party, nationally and in the states, has been quietly working toward avoiding any unpleasantness surrounding Donald Trump’s planned reelection gala in Charlotte next August. Four states — including two of the protected early states, Nevada and South Carolina, plus Kansas and Arizona — have formally cancelled their 2020 caucuses or primaries, and plan to award all delegates to the MAGA king. That wasn’t unprecedented. As nominating contest maven Josh Putnam has noted, numerous states didn’t bother to hold Republican primaries or caucuses when George W. Bush ran for reelection in 2004, and the same is true for Democrats during Barack Obama’s reelection run of 2012. The idea is that states (or in the case of caucuses, state parties) shouldn’t waste money on contests that are, well, no contest.

But neither Bush nor Obama had anything remotely like credible intra-party opponents, while Trump has two former governors (William Weld and Mark Sanford) and a former House member (Joe Walsh) publicly challenging his renomination. None of them have much traction at the moment, but rising impeachment sentiment (even among self-identified Republican voters) has to make Team Trump wonder if precautions are in order.

The canceled events aren’t the only measures Republicans are taking to protect the incumbent, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

“President Donald Trump’s campaign helped orchestrate rule changes at party conventions in dozens of states, including Georgia, to weaken a potential GOP insurrection before it can start.

“Three senior Trump campaign officials said on a conference call Monday that they pressed party officials in 37 states to make it harder for a Republican primary opponent to emerge at the nominating convention in Charlotte in August 2020.”

The key strategy is to monkey around with the proportional representation rules that Republicans introduced in 2016. Now states are being encouraged in order to let states move back towards winner-take-all or winner-take-most systems. Here’s how it will work in Georgia:

“Under the [new] rules, a candidate who wins a plurality of votes statewide automatically captures all of the statewide and at-large delegates. And the candidate who wins a plurality in each congressional district automatically captures all three delegates from the district.

“The previous rules used in the 2016 election let candidates capture at least a handful of delegates if they won 20 percent of the vote statewide or, in some cases, if they finished in a strong second place in a congressional district.”

As Putnam has noted, some state Republican parties have adopted rules that give candidates winning statewide majorities (as opposed to mere pluralities) winner-take-all awards. On a separate front, in 2018 the Republican National Committee abolished its debate-authorization commission. Wouldn’t want to give any pesky Trump rivals a platform to gain attention, would we?

It’s likely that these steps toward unanimity in the nominating process were motivated less by any fear that Trump might lose than by a desire to avoid the sort of divisive spectacle the party advertised in 2016, when Ted Cruz gave a big convention speech that did not include an endorsement of the nominee. Now that Trump truly controls the RNC, he can plan a convention that is, as his representatives have called it, a “four-day television commercial.” Don’t need any mixed messages when you’re revving up the party base to smite the anti-American, anti-God, baby-killing socialists in what will likely be a close general election.


A Case for Narrowing Democratic Messaging on Impeachment

Just how should Democrats make the case for impeachment? Marik Von Rennenkampff, a former State Department analyst and Obama appointee to the Defense Department  shares some thoughts in his link-rich article “Why aren’t Democrats weaponizing Fox News on impeachment?” at The Hill:

If historically-timid Democrats take their dedication to the rule of law and the Constitution seriously, they’ll realize that much of Trump’s political base is impervious to arguments – no matter how logical or factually sound – made outside of the truth-starved, conspiracy theory-peddlingright wing media bubble. Welcome to Trumpian America.

With that reality in mind, Democrats should relentlessly promote the astutely spirited analysis of Fox News’ chief judicial correspondent. Judge Napolitano has stated on multiple live television interviews that in pushing a foreign leader to perform a political “favor” for him, Trump engaged in “criminal and impeachable behavior.” In an era where powerful right wing echo chambers reign supreme, Napolitano’s assessment is a messaging gold mine for constitutionally-minded (yet painfully PR-illiterate) Democrats.

Yes that Fox News. Now take a deep breath and read on.

Indeed, given Fox News’ catnip-like effect on Trump’s red-meat base, one must ask why Democrats are not squeezing every ounce of messaging value out of Napolitano’s spot-on legal analysis. Democrats, apparently, continue to lack the go-for-the-jugular mentality that their right wing counterparts have successfully embraced for decades.

Judge Napolitano’s blistering take, especially in the context of the roiling internal conflict between Fox News’ reporting and commentary divisions, should be a Democratic talking point, repeated ad nauseam, in every single media appearance. The same goes for Fox News characterizing a series of text messages exchanged by U.S. diplomats as “devastating” to Trump. Equally noteworthy is a former Republican senator’s stunning suggestion that “at least 35” of his former GOPcolleagues would privately vote to impeach Trump.

The beauty part is that weak-kneed Republican Senators and House members are extremely worried about the votes of Trump’s MAGA-hats, most of whom either watch the hell out of Fox News or take their voting tips from friends and family members who do so. As Rennenkampff notes, “Relentless promotion of these explosive Fox News pieces knocks the GOP on its heels and forces Trump’s base into the challenging position of defending its own propaganda machine.”

It may be that few hard-core Trump supporters will be swayed by such a campaign. But confronting GOP politicians with Napolitano’s “blistering take” accompanied by the Fox logo should make them squirm. Further, Rennenkampff writes,

Democrats can start with the issue of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine. Why, after five years, did Trump suddenly and unilaterally halt critical American military aid to an ally at war? Trump’s own national security team – let alone Congress, which authorized the funding – was left utterly baffled and blindsided by the decision. The same goes for the Ukrainians.

Make that “an ally who fought alongside Americans against Isis.” Rennenkampff adds that, “While Fox News has reported that Trump engaged in an impeachable “quid pro quo,” his abrupt halt of U.S. assistance to Kyiv strikes at the heart of the crisis.” Also, there’s the corruption redolence: “Democrats should also investigate whether Trump pushed the Ukrainian government to drop criminal investigationsinto his campaign manager’s enormously corrupt dealings in exchange for then-newly approved lethal military aid..In much the same vein, the firing of a widely-respected American diplomat in order to enrich Trump’s cronies reeks of swampian corruption.”

Even if Trump’s base is unmoved by all of the above, holding the Republican politicians who rep them accountable to Fox News reports favoring impeachment could help Dems, if not with impeachment, then perhaps with 2020 election ads.


Teixeira: Proof, If Any More Proof Were Needed, That You Can Indeed Run Too Far to the Left

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

Political scientist Alexander Agadjanian conducted an interesting survey experiment recently, whose results he reported in the New York Times. Here’s the description:

“The experiment’s procedure was simple. A random half of participants read a news snippet illustrating the leftward shift, while the other half read about unrelated topics, such as the schedule of election dates. The news item was a few sentences that included policies discussed by the candidates: decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings; expanding undocumented immigrants’ access to government services; replacing private health insurance with a government-run system; and establishing free public college for all children from working-class families. The content was drawn directly from real news coverage.

Both sets of respondents then indicated how they planned to vote in 2020 (whether for President Trump or the eventual Democratic nominee), how strongly they were considering voting Democratic, and how motivated they felt to turn out and vote for or against the Democratic nominee. Because of the random assignment — with some reading about the policy positions and others reading innocuous, unrelated information — the difference in responses between the groups can be attributed to the effect of reading about the leftward shift.

When deciding between Mr. Trump and the Democratic nominee, voters in the middle — the independents who could ultimately tilt things in Mr. Trump’s favor — became six percentage points less likely to vote Democratic after reading about the leftward turn compared with the independents who had read the innocuous content.”

Note the overlap between the items Agadjanian tested and my earlier piece on “The Four Don’ts of the 2020 Democratic Campaign”. Nice of him to test them for me!

Of course, defenders of these dubious policies can always come up with arguments about how these positions won’t actually the hurt the eventual nominee. This is wishful thinking I believe and, if the Democrats nominee wins in November 2020, it will be in spite of, not because of, these unpopular policies. As Agadjanian remarks:

“The question is, are Democrats giving Republicans a head start and making themselves a juicier target? This experiment suggests the answer might be yes.”


Political Strategy Notes

From E. J. Dionne, Jr.’s column, “Trump’s Base Is Smaller Than He Thinks” in The Washiongton Post: “Polls conducted throughout Trump’s presidency show that his critics feel far more strongly about their opposition to him than his defenders feel about their support. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, found that only 24 percent of registered voters strongly approved of Trump’s performance, while 44 percent strongly disapproved. Significantly, 74 percent of Democratic registered voters strongly disapproved of Trump, but only 50 percent of Republican registered voters strongly approved of him. Which base would you rather have going into this fight — and into 2020?”

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownsein notes that, “as President Donald Trump went on the offensive to bolster his case against impeachment, he tweeted a county-by-county map of the 2016 presidential race that showed a sea of red interrupted by only a few blue inlets, mostly along the coasts. The map, captioned with the headline “Try to Impeach This,” documented the measure on which Trump performed best: He won more than 2,600 counties, while Hillary Clinton carried fewer than 500.” However, “Maps that measure the 2016 result by population—particularly the so-called prism map that displays huge vertical bars over the major urban centers that backed Clinton—show the nation much more evenly balanced. That reflects the reality that while Trump won far more counties, Clinton won substantially more votes—nearly 3 million more in total, a margin roughly equal to President George W. Bush’s popular-vote victory in 2004.” Click here to see population map.

“The latest batch of fundraising reports released this week confirmed a new reality of presidential politics: the traditional, big-dollar model of funding a presidential campaign is going the way of landlines and the VCR,” David Siders writes at Politico. “With Elizabeth Warren’s announcement Friday that she had raised nearly $25 million in the last three months — slightly less than Bernie Sanders reported Tuesday — two candidates who didn’t hold traditional donor events became the top two fundraisers in Democratic primary. And they both blew past the ones who did…Warren and Sanders, who raised $25.3 million, both finished about $10 million ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden for the quarter…Biden, meanwhile, fell back in his fundraising, posting $15.2 million – about $7 million less than he raised the previous three months. And other Democrats who relied on traditional, big-dollar fundraisers also slipped, presaging difficulties financing robust campaigns.”

In “Black women take US mayoral reins in record numbers,” Danny Jin reports at The Monitor: “Black women have historically driven the American political agenda as organizers and as voters. Now, an increasing number are leading the biggest cities in the United States. In 2013, just one black woman was mayor of a major U.S. city, but black women today run seven of the nation’s 100 largest cities, including Washington, Atlanta, and San Francisco.  (Women of color were also elected to lead in three Californian cities: Bakersfield, Chula Vista, and Fremont.) Their election victories and accomplishments in office mark a step forward in the push for equitable governance, experts say…Black women, who largely vote Democratic, went to the polls at higher ratesthan any other demographic group in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. And they played a key role in deciding 2018’s midterms.”

According to Denise-Marie Ordway’s “The consequences of ‘horse race’ reporting: What the research says” at Journalist’s Resource: ““The horserace has been the dominant theme of election news since the 1970s, when news organizations began to conduct their own election polls,” [Harvard professor Thpomas E.] Patterson writes in a December 2016 working paper, “News Coverage of the 2016 General Election: How the Press Failed the Voters.” “Since then, polls have proliferated to the point where well over a hundred separate polls — more than a new poll each day — were reported in major news outlets during the 2016 general election.”…Horse race reporting helped catapult billionaire businessman Donald Trump to a lead position during the nominating phase of the 2016 presidential campaign, finds another paper in Patterson’s research series, “News Coverage of the 2016 Presidential Primaries: Horse Race Reporting Has Consequences.”

Most physicians voted Republican in past decades. But now, Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg reveal that “Doctors, Once GOP Stalwarts, Now More Likely to Be Democrats” at The Wall St. Journal. The reasons, noted in the article subtitle, include: “Historic shift, driven by changes in business of medicine and women entering profession, comes with overall movement of college-educated people to Democratic Party.”

Shareblue’s Dan Desai Martin reports that “Demand for gun safety could flip Virginia legislature from red to blue,” and notes, “As Virginia voters head to the polls on Nov. 5, gun policy is top of mind, according to a new Washington Post poll released Friday. Republicans currently hold a narrow lead in both legislative chambers, but every seat in both chambers is in play this year, meaning Democrats have a chance to seize control of one or both next month…When asked which issues are most important, 75% of registered voters said gun control, eclipsing education, at 70%, and health care, at 66%, as the top issue…”This poll is further evidence that Virginia’s elected officials who side with the gun lobby in opposing widely popular and common sense solutions should be extremely worried,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement. “For the first time, pro gun safety voters are now more motivated than anti gun safety voters and that gap is widening. We expect this trend to continue in Virginia and across the country.”

Martin continues, “The issue of gun safety hit home for Virginians in late May when Virginia Beach was added to the growing list of American cities devastated by a mass shooting incident. A dozen people died on May 31 when a gunman started shooting at a city government building, prompting the governor to call a special legislative session focused on gun safety…But rather than consider even one piece of legislation, Republicans voted to end the special session after just 90 minutes. Weeks later, the NRA made a massive $200,000 campaign donation to the Republican majority leader of the House of Delegates…”It couldn’t be clearer — the NRA is rewarding Virginia Republicans for standing with them instead of their constituents,” Jessica Post, president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, said at the time of the NRA donation. “Virginia Republicans are extreme and out of touch when it comes to gun safety.”…Post’s statements are backed up by the latest poll, which shows 58% of Virginians support stricter gun laws in the state…When it comes to specific policies, Republican lawmakers are even more out of touch. Expanding background checks is supported by 88% of Virginians, while laws to temporarily seize guns from someone law enforcement deems a threat, known as “red flag” laws, has the support of 82% of Virginians.”

Yes, Trump actually went there. At CNN Politics, Marshall Cohen quotes from Trump’s impromtu White House lawn yakfest with reporters: “”Let me tell you, I’m only interested in corruption,” Trump said. “I don’t care about politics. I don’t care about Biden’s politics…. I don’t care about politics. But I do care about corruption, and this whole thing is about corruption… This is about corruption, and this is not about politics.” Cohen notes six reasons why Trump’s mention of ‘corruption’ invites ridicule, including: “Trump defended Manafort, who made millions from Ukraine. Trump has defended and expressed sympathy for his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who spent a decade working for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. After Yanukovych’s ouster in 2014, the new government accused him of looting billions of dollars from Ukrainian coffers. Manafort is currently in prison for tax fraud after hiding his Ukraine income in offshore accounts.” Add to Cohen’s list Trump’s golfing trips, his family’s profiteering and squandering taxpayer dollars on Administration officials and staff staying at his hotels, no name just a few examples.


Teixeira: A Case for ‘Social Democratic Capitalism’

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

Social Democratic Capitalism!

The excellent Lane Kenworthy has a new book coming out. Pre-order today!

“For nations, as for individuals, it’s good to be rich. Affluent countries are more likely to be democratic, more likely to have government programs that cushion life’s bumps and boost the capabilities and well-being of the less fortunate, and more likely to prioritize personal liberty. Their citizens tend to be more secure, better educated, healthier, freer, and happier.

The world’s twenty or so rich democratic countries aren’t all alike, and they’ve changed a good bit over the past century. Their experiences give us helpful clues about what institutions and policies best promote human flourishing. To this point in history, the most successful societies have been those that feature capitalism, a democratic political system, good elementary and secondary (K–12) schooling, a big welfare state, employment-conducive public services, and moderate regulation of product and labor markets. I call this set of policies and institutions “social democratic capitalism.”

Social democratic capitalism improves living standards for the least well-off, enhances economic security, and very likely boosts equality of opportunity. It does so without sacrificing the many other things we want in a good society, from liberty to economic growth and much more. Its chief practitioners have been the Nordic nations: Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Contrary to what some presume, there is no good reason to think social democratic capitalism will work well only in these countries. Its success almost certainly is transferable to other affluent nations. Indeed, all of those nations already are partial adopters of social democratic capitalism.

The United States, the largest of the world’s rich democracies, is one of those partial adopters. If the United States were to expand some of its existing public social programs and add some additional ones, many ordinary Americans would have better lives. Despite formidable political obstacles, there is good reason to think America will move in this direction in coming decades.

Those are my conclusions. This book provides the evidence and the reasoning.


Andrew Johnson and Donald Trump

It’s a historic moment in political history, and I was happy to engage in a historical discussion of past presidential impeachment proceedings at New York:

As we look forward to the possible — I’d say probable — impeachment of Donald J. Trump, it’s natural to look back at precedents from the last century: the near-impeachment of Richard Nixon (who resigned facing certain impeachment and likely conviction) and Bill Clinton (who was impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate).

But in some ways these examples are unsatisfying. When they had their impeachment crises, both Nixon and Clinton had recently been reelected to second terms by very comfortable margins. They were fairly conventional politicians whose behavior in most respects was also fairly conventional (even the famously paranoid and self-isolated Nixon had been a party stalwart and well-known elected official for 28 years when his Watergate cover-up and related misdeeds struck him down). Clinton famously “compartmentalized” his investigation, impeachment, and trial, and no one seriously argued his continuation in the presidency threatened the safety of the Republic. And Nixon didn’t become noticeably erratic until near the end of his failed efforts to escape the noose he had clumsily created for himself.

To find any situation like Trump’s, you really have to go back to the first presidential impeachment (there was an earlier effort to impeach John Tyler after he ascended to the presidency via the death of William Henry Harrison and proceeded to veto nearly all his party’s legislation, but it failed in the House). Like Tyler, Andrew Johnson was an accidental president (Lincoln’s assassination made him POTUS), and, like Tyler, he had once belonged to the party opposing the one that placed him on a national ticket. But unlike Tyler and much like Trump, Johnson entered office as something of a figure of scandal, having delivered an inaugural address inside the Capitol in a very apparent state of inebriation (“Do not let Johnson speak outside,” Lincoln reportedly said before the public inaugural address that many consider his own greatest speech).

Johnson also anticipated Trump in the violent abusiveness of his rhetoric toward political enemies. He had first attracted the support of Republicans as Lincoln’s 1864 running mate thanks to his frequent and intense denunciations of his fellow Southern secessionists as traitors who deserved to be strung up, if not killed in combat. But once Johnson committed himself to the restoration of white supremacy in the South after the Civil War, he unloosed his tongue on his former allies, as Tim Murphy of Mother Jones recalls:

“In 1866, he decided to go on the offensive, embarking on a national tour to shore up his support. It was called the ‘Swing Around the Circle,’ and it was insane. The closest I can come to describing is, maybe, what if George Wallace spoke at Altamont? It’s tough to find a true analogue. Presidents just don’t really talk like Johnson did on that tour, no matter what lurks in their hearts.”

Among other things, Johnson called for “hanging” his chief congressional Republican critic, Thaddeus Stevens, and abolitionist leader Wendell Phillips. According to prevailing standards of the day, Johnson held the functional equivalent of MAGA rallies. Jamelle Bouie quotes a contemporary evaluation of Johnson’s events that sounds very familiar:

“His low cunning conspired with his devouring egoism to make him throw off all the restraints of official decorum, in the expectation that he would find duplicates of himself in the crowds he addressed and that mob diffused would heartily sympathize with Mob impersonated. Never was a blustering demagogue led by a distempered sense of self-importance into a more fatal error.”

Both before and during this campaign, Johnson struck a variety of observers as having a mind obsessed with resentment of what would later be called “elites,” and incapable of admitting error. But it was the context of his angry fight with Congress that led to his impeachment, and provides the most important link to Trump. Gripped by a determination to let the South reenter the Union with only the barest Reconstruction, Johnson was a law unto himself, and defied every effort to enact and then to enforce the most basic protections for ex-slaves, as Yoni Applebaum explained earlier this year:

“The question facing Congress, and the public, was this: What do you do with a president whose every utterance and act seems to undermine the Constitution he is sworn to uphold? At first, Republicans pursued the standard mix of legislative remedies—holding hearings and passing bills designed to strip the president of certain powers. Many members of Johnson’s Cabinet worked with their congressional counterparts to constrain the president. Johnson began to see conspiracies around every corner. He moved to purge the bureaucracy of his opponents, denouncing the ‘blood-suckers and cormorants’ who frustrated his desires.’

“It was the campaign of white-nationalist terror that raged through the spring and summer of 1866 that persuaded many Republicans they could not allow Johnson to remain in office. In Tennessee, where Johnson had until the year before served as military governor, a white mob opposed to black equality rampaged through the streets of Memphis in May, slaughtering dozens of people as it went. July brought a second massacre, this one in New Orleans, where efforts to enfranchise black voters sparked a riot. A mob filled with police, firemen, armed youths, and Confederate veterans shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, and mutilated dozens, many of them black veterans of the Union Army. Johnson chose not to suppress the violence, using fear of disorder to build a constituency more loyal to him than to either party.”

And that wasn’t all. As Johnson prevented federal intervention, white ex-slaveholders enacted so-called Black Codes throughout the South aimed at, in the words of one advocate, keeping freedmen “as near to the condition of slavery as possible, and as far from the condition of the white man as is practicable.” In the eyes of most Republicans at the time, Johnson wanted to squander the horrendous sacrifices of the Civil War and restore the South’s immense prewar power.

In this, Johnson anticipated Trump’s relentless fight against any accountability, any boundaries for his power, and any institutions or norms that might restrain his sovereignty as president.

It was hard, in the end, for congressional Republicans to figure out articles of impeachment that comprehended Johnson’s threat to the country. As Murphy notes, that too represents a parallel to today’s congressional Democrats in coming to grips with Trump’s lawlessness:

“[T]here was only one true Johnson scandal, just as there is only one true Trump scandal, and though the particulars are very different—the former’s class resentment was the inverse of the latter’s class entitlement—they share a common element: an open hostility to democratic ideals. That was Andrew Johnson’s high crime, and there was nothing conspiratorial or nitpicky about it. He was doing it in plain sight. The rest was noise.”

In the end, the centerpiece of the articles of impeachment against Johnson (and the sole grounds on which he was tried in the Senate) involved his willful defiance of the Tenure of Office Act, a law restricting his ability to fire Cabinet members without congressional approval, which was subsequently held unconstitutional. It was arguably an illustrative and more than definitive ground for impeachment: Because it was triggered by his effort to get rid of Edward Stanton just as the Secretary of War was deploying military force to halt ex-Confederate terrorism, it represented Johnson’s determination to fight for white supremacy. In that sense, it was similar to the apparent inclination of today’s House Democrats to impeach Trump for doing something equally illustrative of his overall pattern of lawlessness: using presidential powers to encourage a foreign government to drop a hammer on a domestic political threat.

Johnson, of course, was acquitted by the Senate, though by a much narrower margin than the one which will likely acquit Trump no matter what the impeachment inquiry uncovers. In the end, Johnson was vindicated not by his acquittal, but by the gradual abandonment of Reconstruction and the imposition of Jim Crow across the South. The fate of Trump’s reckless stand against equality, diversity, the rule of law, and those norms of decency that he contemptuously dismisses as “political correctness” may eventually rest in the hands of voters, if Trump’s party lets them be cast and counted. But don’t for a moment pretend he hasn’t invited impeachment just as Andrew Johnson did.


Political Strategy Notes

In his NYT column “Will Trump Ever Leave the White House,” Thomas B. Edsall addresses a question of growing concern, given the President’s penchant for increasingly unhinged rants. Edsall sides more with those who see trouble ahead. But he does quote the more optimistic Brookings scholar William Frey: “There is no doubt that Trump continues to fan the flames of racial anxiety for his perceived benefit. He tries to paint an America that has shifted from the white dominated 1950s when immigration was low and blacks were highly segregated…This is not the America of today and really only applies to a swath of the population ages 55 and above and in whiter parts of the country whose populations are increasingly diminishing…Now Trump is less popular in general and Republicans have done less well in the 2018 midterms including among whites, especially white women, and in nonurban areas…Yes, some people are afraid of a nonwhite takeover for America but they are a small and dwindling piece of the American electorate. Highlighting race as a primary campaign message will not work for Trump again.” A sober assessment, especially considering that Trump doesn’t have the backing of the modern, multi-racial military or the broad media control needed for such a coup. Nor would American business leaders, who are already skeptical about his disruption of international trade, welcome the domestic chaos it would bring.

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. wonders “Will impeachment finally organize the Democrats?,” and observes: “Normally, Democrats wear their diversity as a badge of honor, even as they feud and scuffle. But with House Democrats in the heat of an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the habits of political lifetimes collide with the imperatives of discipline and focus…And Democrats being Democrats, they are even arguing about who deserves credit for the decision to open an impeachment inquiry. When CNN posted a feature about how moderates moved the House to act, champions of the party’s outspoken progressives, who had long endorsed this step, asked why they did not get more credit for being there all along…Democrats are determined to challenge Trump every time he claims that impeachment is getting in the way of action on prescription drug prices, guns and other issues that helped elect the new moderates. Pelosi went out of her way to open the news conference by focusing on these questions, not impeachment. She said that if the president used the House’s investigation as an excuse for governing sloth, “the ball is in his court.”…Because things have suddenly become so serious, Democrats just might learn to behave differently. “We have this fragile majority and right now we are all that stands between these attacks by the president and his enablers across the aisle on the fundamentals of our democracy,” [vice chair of the House Democratic caucus Katherine] Clark said. If this responsibility doesn’t concentrate the mind of a party that adores brawling, nothing will.”

From Kyle Kondik’s “The Senate: Ratings Changes and the Shadow of Impeachment” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “We would be lying if we said we had a great sense as to how the Democrats’ drive to impeach Trump will impact the elections next year. There are just too many variables and moving pieces to feel strongly about it. But the potential for the battle to harden partisan attitudes may have down-ballot effects for some members of Congress, as noted above…But don’t be surprised if, for all the noise, the impeachment inquiry — and even a successful House vote for impeachment and subsequent Senate trial — does not lead to sharp changes in public attitudes. It is true from limited polling that, at the very least, Democrats are coalescing around impeachment after the revelation of the now-famous telephone readout between Trump and the Ukrainian president. What seems to be happening is that Democrats are taking their cues from party leadership, which has resisted calling for impeachment until now, and increasing their own support for impeachment as a result. There has been some movement in favor of impeachment among independents and Republicans, although one would have to cherry-pick data to argue that overall support for impeaching and removing the president is significantly more than mixed…Meanwhile, the president’s approval rating — as it seems to do — has remained largely fixed where it’s been, in the low-to-mid 40s, with disapproval over 50%. Could the Ukraine bombshell and subsequent discoveries from the impeachment process cause it to dip over time? Sure…But after years of observing the president’s durability in polls, thanks in large part to strong GOP support, it’s safer to expect continuity as opposed to change in the president’s standing.” Kondik notes, “There are two Senate ratings changes this week, one benefiting each side. The most vulnerable senator, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), moves from Toss-up to Leans Republican, while Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up.”

Ronald Brownstein explains why “The Risks of Impeachment Are Overblown” at The Atlantic: “For months, the biggest hurdle for Democrats pushing the House to open impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump was the party leadership’s concern that such a process would politically endanger the members at the far edge of their majority, especially the 31 representing districts that voted for the president in 2016…But there’s considerable evidence—both in contemporary polling and the experience of former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment—that impeaching Trump might not be nearly as risky as it’s been portrayed for them…Despite the cascade of new revelations damaging to Trump, some Democratic strategists focused on holding the House still privately worry that impeachment could endanger too many of the members from districts that divide closely between the parties or lean Republican. That’s been the dominant perspective at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is chaired by Representative Cheri Bustos, who herself represents an Illinois district Trump won in 2016. Yet other party strategists now see a pathway to expanding support for impeachment, which a majority of Americans have consistently opposed in polls, or at least neutralizing any recoil against it.”

Brownstein continues, ““If voters see this as being about significant abuses of power and serious attempts to undermine the rule of law, then I don’t worry particularly about a backlash against Democrats who vote for impeachment,” says the longtime Democratic pollster Geoff Garin. “If it is seen purely as a partisan exercise, the answer may be different. But I have a good level of confidence that it will not be seen that way, that the moderates in the Trump districts who eventually support impeachment will be seen as having done so for serious and sober reasons.” Noting that “Clinton’s job approval rating about 20 percentage points higher than Trump’s is today,” Brownstein adds, “The other big difference is that, unlike Clinton, Trump will be on the ballot in 2020 (absent the unlikely event of enough Senate Republicans voting to remove him from office if the House does eventually impeach him.) “There is no escaping Trump,” says Sarah Binder, a senior fellow in governance studies at Brookings. “He is the 800-pound elephant … There is no escaping his relevance to this election. It just seems that might be quite different than what happened in 2000 once you had Clinton departing from the scene.”

Further, says Brownstein, “Other analysts point to Trump’s uncertain position even in the Democratic-held districts that he carried. Trump was hardly a colossus in those 31 seats in 2016: He exceeded 51 percent of the vote in only six of them, and reached 50 or 51 percent in just seven more. He beat Hillary Clinton while drawing less than half of the total vote in the other 18 of those seats…That distinction hasn’t escaped the Democratic members in those districts: By the time Pelosi made her announcement on Tuesday afternoon, 10 of the 18 Democrats from districts where Trump won with less than half of the vote had endorsed an impeachment inquiry. By comparison, at that point, only four of the members from the 13 Democratic-held seats where Trump did reach a majority had joined the call for impeachment proceedings, according to the tracker maintained by Politico…After starting in such an equivocal position in many of these districts, Trump’s position appears to have eroded since 2016. A recent round of polls conducted for a consortium of Democratic groups placed Trump’s approval rating below 45 percent in several of the Democratic districts he won, and above 50 percent in only one: the Oklahoma City seat of Representative Kendra Horn, according to figures provided to me.” Even better, “The upcoming debate could create risks for Republicans too, in the states and House districts trending away from Trump, such as the concentration of suburban seats in Texas that Democrats are targeting. If impeachment reaches the Senate, Republican incumbents such as Susan Collins of Maine, Martha McSally of Arizona, and Cory Gardner of Colorado may be unlikely to vote to convict the president—which will bind them to him more tightly in states where his position is equivocal at best.”

At FiveThirtyEight, Perry Bacon, Jr. explains why “Why Black Voters Prefer Establishment Candidates Over Liberal Alternatives,” and notes, “Black voters effectively delivered Hillary Clinton the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. She and Sen. Bernie Sanders ran about evenly among white voters, but black voters overwhelmingly backed Clinton. So did the Democratic establishment…That team-up — black voters and the more establishment candidate — is not unusual…We don’t have detailed exit polls of Democratic primaries for most other offices, but according to pre-election polls and precinct results in a number of high-profile House and gubernatorial primaries since 2016, black voters have tended to back the candidate from the party’s establishment wing over a more liberal alternative. And at least for now, we’re seeing the same pattern in the 2020 Democratic presidential race: Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Sanders are fairly competitive with Joe Biden among white Democrats, but trail the former vice president substantially among black Democrats…Why, though? After all, African Americans have dramatically less incomeand wealth than white Americans, so messages of “big, structural change” (Warren) or a “political revolution” (Sanders) should, in theory, be particularly appealing. Because a higher percentage of black Americans than white Americans don’t have health insurance, a program like Medicare for All, for example, would disproportionately benefit black people.”

Bacon elaborates, “So what gives? I’m going to offer some potential answers to that question, but let’s first get a couple caveats and complications out of the way…First, it’s hard to come up with a definitive explanation for the establishment-black voter alliance because the “establishment” is a fuzzy concept. Exactly which candidate is a center-left, establishment Democrat and which is anti-establishment or “the liberal alternative” is all a bit subjective…Second — and this is important — black Democrats are not a monolith and are divided in some of the same ways white Democrats are divided. Young black voters are less supportive of Biden (and were less supportive of Clinton in 2016) compared to older black voters. Similarly, black voters without college degrees are more supportive of Biden than those with degrees…That said, blacks of all demographics are more supportive of Biden than their white counterparts, according to Morning Consult polling data. Young black voters are more supportive of Biden (and were more supportive of Clinton) than young white voters. Older black voters were more supportive of Clinton than older white ones in 2016 and now are strongly behind Biden. Black college graduates are more supportive of Biden than white college graduates. Nuances aside, the weakness of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party with black voters is a well-known phenomenon that people in the Warren and Sanders camps and anti-establishment liberal activist groups are openly grappling with.”

Bacon provides five other factors, in order of importance: “1. Establishment candidates typically have existing ties to the black community; 2. Black voters are pragmatic; 3. Black leaders are part of the establishment and support its candidates; 4. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party appeals to the well-educated more than other groups, and the vast majority of black Democrats don’t have college degrees;5. The left wing isn’t running enough black candidates. In addition, Bacon writes, “We could come up with some other explanations, but I think those are the strongest. And this analysis points to a blueprint for the left wing of the Democratic Party if it wants to win more black votes:

  1. Align with black candidates or non-black candidates with strong ties to black voters and leaders
  2. Aggressively court black leaders for endorsements
  3. Directly address black voters’ concerns that more liberal candidates have a greater chance of losing races to Republicans
  4. And target black voters under 45 and those with college degrees, who might be less inclined to vote for establishment candidates.

Bacon concludes, “So could that approach work for Sanders and Warren against Biden? Maybe. You could imagine Warren in particular getting endorsements from younger liberal black figures like Gillum or Pressley (particularly if Warren wins one of the early primary states and Harris finishes far behind and is no longer viable). And maybe those endorsements and Warren’s campaigning then lead her to become the candidate of black voters under 45 and those with college degrees, even if Biden still gets most votes from older and less educated black voters…Remember, Sanders or Warren don’t necessarily have to win the black vote to become the Democratic nominee — they just can’t lose it by 60 percentage points, as Sanders did in 2016. (Biden is getting between 40 and 50 percent of the black vote in most polls now, so nowhere near Clinton 2016 levels. But Clinton was in a two-candidate field, and I would expect Biden’s support among black voters to go up as this gigantic field shrinks.)…But even if Sanders or Warren gets more support among black voters in 2020 than the Vermont senator did in 2016, I tend to think Biden will remain fairly popular with black voters overall — because of his ties to Obama and other black leaders and the perception that he can defeat Trump.”