washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Like a master stage magician’s best “sleight of hand” trick, Ruffini makes MAGA extremism in the GOP disappear right before our eyes.

Read the Memo.

A Democratic Political Strategy for Reaching Working Class Voters That Starts from the Actual “Class Consciousness” of Modern Working Americans.

by Andrew Levison

Read the Memo

The recently published book, Rust Belt Union Blues, by Lainey Newman and Theda Skocpol represents a profoundly important contribution to the debate over Democratic strategy.

Read the Memo.

Why Don’t Working People Recognize and Appreciate Democratic Programs and Policies

The mythology of “Franklin Roosevelt’s Hundred Days” and the Modern Debate Over “Deliverism.”

Read the Memo.

The American Establishment’s Betrayal of Democracy

The American Establishment’s Betrayal of Democracy The Fundamental but Generally Unacknowledged Cause of the Current Threat to America’s Democratic Institutions.

Read the Memo.

Immigration “Chaos” Could Sink Democrats in 2024…

And the Democratic Narrative Simply Doesn’t Work. Here’s An Alternative That Does.

Read the Memo.

The Daily Strategist

February 28, 2024

Political Strategy Notes

From “Biden wants to be democracy’s candidate. Trump makes that easy” by E. J. Dionne, Jr. at The Washington Post: “In placing democracy, political violence and right-wing extremism on the 2024 ballot, President Biden is playing jujitsu with Donald Trump, but also with Republicans in Congress….In a campaign speech near Valley Forge in Pennsylvania on Friday, the president moved the election’s stakes above run-of-the-mill politics to the very survival of democratic government. In doing so, he challenged voters — and the media — to see the alternative to his reelection as capitulation to the darkest forces in American life and around the globe….Jujitsu is defined as using the strength of an adversary against him. If Trump’s ability to dominate American political conversation has made it impossible for Biden to keep his promise of a more civil and peaceful politics, the president intends to make clear where the blame lies for the country’s distemper….a conversation centered on democracy’s future at home and abroad has the potential to shift the debate’s spotlight back to where it belongs: Away from migrant issues that have paralyzed Congress for two decades and toward the “sacred cause” of democracy that Biden lifted up on Friday….Biden’s case is against not only the man himself, but also an extremism that Trump has cultivated and helped to thrive in the Republican Party….A senior Biden adviser who briefed journalists before the president’s speech noted that “political violence is on display in a way that really unsettles the country.” Encouraging an extremism of deed as well as word is part of Trump’s political legacy. Calling it out will be central to the next 10 months. “When there’s an extremist threat in the country,” the aide said, “you have to name it, you have to say what it is.” Naming the violence that is part of its repertoire is key to this task….For Biden, democracy is now the foundation of his campaign. He needs to make it a centerpiece of the arguments that will roil Washington in the coming weeks.

At Forbes, Sara Dorn reports: “The Democratic party plans to focus its 2024 messaging on attacking Republicans who have supported former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud, according to a memo shared Wednesday—as President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign also announced he will cast Trump as a threat to democracy in a major campaign speech Saturday….Calling election denialism “the defining litmus test for the GOP presidential field,” the memo also rebukes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for campaigning on behalf of GOP midterm candidates who denied the results of the 2020 presidential election and DeSantis for refusing to say Jan. 6 was an insurrection….While Trump has continued to wield outsize power over the Republican party since losing the 2020 election, there are some signs Trump has negatively impacted the party as his preferred candidates have lost a series of high-stakes congressional races in recent years. The losses cost Republicans the Senate and a wider majority in the House in the 2022 midterms….It’s unclear how a [Trump] conviction in any of the cases could sway voters or whether the cases will even reach a trial before November. Some surveys show the majority of voters, 58%, according to a recent New York Times/Siena College poll, believe Trump committed serious federal crimes, 62% of Republicans also believe he should remain the party’s nominee, if he wins the primary and is subsequently convicted of a crime….Whether Democrats’ plans to cast Republicans as a threat to democracy will sway voters. The economy is consistently ranked as the top issue for voters, with 75% of survey respondents in a December Associated Press/NORC poll naming it as extremely or very important, compared to 67% who said the same about the future of democracy in the U.S….62%. That’s the share of Americans who said they believe Biden was legitimately elected, down from 69% in December 2021, according to a December Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, indicating growing Republican loyalty to Trump.” The “democracy vs. chaos” strategy has resonance now, thanks to the media coverage surrounding the anniversary of January 6th insurrection. But it is unclear how well it will play in 10 months in context of other issues.

“The deep voter dissatisfaction with the economy is a broader high-stakes puzzle going into an election year,” K. Sabeel Rahman writes in “Saving Bidenomics” at The Boston Review. “But even in the context of these spending bills, the political upside has yet to materialize. In some cases, where new jobs were created and investments have been made, local political leaders have resisted giving the President or the new policies credit. The bigger challenge, though, may be that for all the vast sums of money authorized by Congress, many of these programs have yet to be designed and the dollars yet to be spent. Many communities will not see immediate benefits. And many of the economic pain points that households face—from housing to care to food prices—remain underaddressed….The debate over how to implement industrial policy is not simply technocratic. What makes this otherwise wonky debate so fraught is the understanding that failure to make the most of this burst of public spending could be catastrophic. In a divided country where vast swaths of undermobilized and apathetic voters could make the difference in the survival of American democracy itself, these questions of political strategy—how to activate public support by delivering tangible benefits broadly—loom large. Indeed, as we head into the 2024 presidential primaries, where Trump and Trumpism has further taken hold in the conservative ecosystem, the dangers of an electoral loss for progressives are increasingly existential—for these new industrial policy initiatives, for the survival of the administrative agencies charged with executing them, and for democracy itself.”

In “Biden Begins 2024 With Better Poll Numbers Than His Foes—and Fans—Recognize” by John Nichols writes at The Nation: “If Biden gets his disjointed reelection campaign together and starts to deliver a coherent and consistent message, it’s a good bet that 2024 will turn out similarly or, perhaps, even better for Democrats than 2020. Biden’s message will focus on Trump’s many scandals and the increasingly authoritarian rhetoric of his desperate candidacy. But what may be president’s greatest strength going into the 2024 race was summed up by Steven Rattner in an end-of-2023 New York Times opinion piece that used multiple charts to convey the point that the US economy “beat the odds in 2023, coming in with far lower unemployment, far higher growth, and far better stock performance than projected.”….The economy is not, by a long shot, the only issue that will matter in 2024. Abortion rights concerns will undoubtedly turn out voters who favor Biden. By the same token, the president’s flawed response to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and especially to the Israeli assault on Gaza, could depress enthusiasm among young voters and Muslim Americans in swing states such as Michigan. And even if the economy were the only issue, Biden’s approach still leaves plenty to be desired in the eyes of many voters….But as veteran pollster and commentator Cornell Belcher said after reviewing Rattner’s upbeat assessment of the numbers, “Maybe, just maybe, Democrats should say this over and over and over again to voters at every turn and on every platform—kinda like a coordinated message or something, while taking credit for it.”….If the president and his partisan allies take that advice and the economy remains strong, there’s a compelling case Biden’s polling position will improve as the 2024 race unfolds.”

Kondik: Despite Bad Polls, Biden Is Still Competitive

From “The Presidential Race at the Dawn of a New Year” by Kyle Kondik at Sabato’s Crystal Ball:

— Despite bad polling and clear weaknesses for President Biden, we are sticking with our initial Electoral College ratings from the summer, which show him doing better than what polls today would indicate, even as there are enough Toss-up electoral votes to make the election anyone’s game.

— We still anticipate a close and competitive election between Biden and former President Trump, whose dominance in the GOP primary race has endured as the Iowa caucus looms.

Kondik concludes, “Readers sometimes ask us if we have a set schedule for updating ratings. We do not—we make updates when we believe that they are warranted, although we also don’t want to be changing ratings willy nilly throughout the election season: The ratings are designed to be a best guess projection of November, not a measurement of where things may stand now. An “if the election was held today” assessment is pointless, because, well, we know that the election is set for November, not for today or tomorrow. Thus far we haven’t been compelled to change our initial Electoral College ratings, although we of course have taken note of Biden’s poor current polling. It will be harder to downplay the numbers if they persist, particularly even as Trump becomes more prominent because of the primary season and other factors.”

Biden ’24 Is a Better Bet Than Truman ’48

I love historical analogies for campaigns and elections, and looked at a familiar precedent at New York:

It’s probably a by-product of our unstable and fractious political environment that observers constantly reach for historical precedents to anchor today’s dizzying developments in patterns we can recognize. So I am highly sympathetic to Nate Cohn’s effort in a New York Times column to suggest that Joe Biden’s reelection bid might resemble Harry Truman’s in 1948.

Truman is an eternal role model for embattled presidents whose reelection prospects seemed doomed; his upset win over Thomas Dewey is the perpetual consolation of struggling incumbents. It’s no accident that when Donald Trump was badly trailing Biden in the polls during the summer of 2020, his fans began predicting a Truman-style comeback.

Cohn, however, is focused on a particular analogy between 1948 and 2024: the fact that, like Biden, Truman struggled to overcome intense unhappiness over rapidly rising prices at a time when other economic indicators were quite positive:

“In the era of modern economic data, Harry Truman was the only president besides Joe Biden to oversee an economy with inflation over 7 percent while unemployment stayed under 4 percent and G.D.P. growth kept climbing. Voters weren’t overjoyed then, either. Instead, they saw Mr. Truman as incompetent, feared another depression and doubted their economic future, even though they were at the dawn of postwar economic prosperity.”

What Cohn wants us to understand is that Truman’s remarkable comeback was accompanied by an intense presidential focus on fighting inflation:

“You might well remember from your U.S. history classes that he blamed the famous ‘Do Nothing Congress’ for not enacting his agenda.

“What you might not have learned in history class is that Mr. Truman attacked the ‘Do Nothing Congress’ first and foremost for failing to do anything about prices. The text of his speech at the Democratic convention does not quite do justice to his impassioned attack on Republicans for failing to extend price controls in 1946, and for their platform on prices.”

Cohn notes that Biden cannot emulate certain assets Truman had in his efforts to bring down inflation while blaming his Republican opponents for its persistence: a mechanism, government price controls, that was popular then but entirely disreputable now and a Congress totally controlled by the GOP, making it as culpable as the president for hard times.

But while Biden may not have some of the raw materials Truman used to build his remarkable comeback, he also doesn’t share some of the distinct problems the 33rd president faced.

Yes, Biden is coping with dissension in his party’s ranks but not the sort of formal crack-up that led to not one but two competing ex-Democratic presidential tickets in 1948: the States’ Rights Democratic (a.k.a. Dixiecrat) ticket led by Strom Thurmond, which attracted southern segregationists, and ex-Vice-President Henry Wallace’s left-bent Progressives. Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is indeed an ex-Democrat from a famous Democratic family, but it appears he is taking away at least as many votes from the Republican column as from his former party.

Biden also suffers from a dyspeptic post-pandemic public mood that is similar in some respects to the angst afflicting Americans after the euphoric unity of World War II. That’s bad for any incumbent president. But Truman had the additional handicap of his party having controlled the White House for 16 years, the longest stretch since the post–Civil War era of Republican dominance. Today, the United States is in an extended period of exceptional balance between the two major parties, which have each held the presidency for exactly half of the 21st century and shared control of Congress as often as not.

But the most important difference between 1948 and 2024 is the identity of the likely Republican nominee. Yes, Dewey was a repeat nominee as Trump will be, having run a respectable if losing campaign against FDR in 1944. But Dewey, who was the governor of New York, was as remote from Trump in his temperament and ideological inclinations as is possible to imagine. The living embodiment of the Republican Establishment of his day, Dewey was relatively progressive on domestic-policy issues (he famously debated his most formidable primary opponent, Harold Stassen, on the single topic of Stassen’s proposal that the Communist Party should be outlawed, strongly opposing the idea) and resolutely internationalist in foreign policy. In sharp contrast to the perpetually turbulent MAGA movement founder, Dewey ran a quiet, even complacent general-election campaign that heavily relied on the poll-driven belief that he would win easily. And while Truman did indeed run a strongly partisan campaign attacking the opposing party, most of his fire was trained on congressional Republicans rather than Dewey himself.

There is zero question that Biden is staking his reelection prospects on making 2024 a referendum on Trump as much as on his own performance as president. And while the kind of sharp improvement in perceptions of the economy that helped rescue Truman would also enormously benefit Biden, he may not have to become all that popular to win.

In his essay on 1948 and 2024, Cohn hints at one factor that was crucial in 1948 and could be equally important this year: a national craving for “normalcy.” He doesn’t go into this issue in detail, but it’s clear in retrospect that Republicans had high expectations of victory in 1948 in no small part because they assumed voters wanted calm and stable governance after the excitement of the Great Depression and World War II (much as British voters rejected Winston Churchill’s long-governing Tories at the very end of that war). One reason Truman won is that he successfully warned swing voters that a Republican administration would junk Democratic policies (not just wartime price controls but, crucially, farm price supports) they had come to rely on as a normal part of economic life.

One of the big intangibles about 2024 is whether swing voters ultimately perceive a Trump comeback as auguring a return to the pre-pandemic status quo ante (especially in terms of prices and interest rates) as less fearful than another term for an octogenarian incumbent thought to be less than fully in control — or instead make the same calculations many did in 2020 when Biden offered a safe alternative to the perpetually alarming 45th president. I’d say the odds of the latter contingency are pretty high so long as the economy continues to improve even modestly. It’s far too early to predict happy days will be here again for Democrats, but it’s no time for excessive pessimism either.

Political Strategy Notes

On New Year’s Day I noted a post from USA Today that spotlighted five counties across the U.S. that may be pivotal in in the 2024 elections. , and The seven counties that will help explain the 2024 election” at nbcnews.com,” and note:

Maricopa County, Arizona: Home to Phoenix, it’s the biggest and swingiest county in battleground Arizona. Former President Donald Trump won it in 2016, 48% to 45%, while Joe Biden won it in 2020, 50% to 48%.

Miami-Dade County, Florida: With Latinos making up a majority of its residents, this county was once reliably Democratic — with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton winning it by more than 20 percentage points in 2012 and 2016. But Biden won it by just 7 points in 2020, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won it by 11 points in his 2022 gubernatorial re-election.

Gwinnett County, Georgia: This diverse county (30% Black, 20% Latino, 14% Asian) is where the Democratic Party has had one of its biggest increases in its vote share from 2008 to 2020. In 2016, Clinton won the county by 6 points; in 2020, Biden won it by 18 — a significant reason how he was able to flip the state in that election.

Kent County, Michigan: Home to Grand Rapids, this once-reliable Republican county started breaking the Democrats’ way in the Trump era. Mitt Romney won it 53% to 45% in 2012; Trump won it by 3 points in 2016, 48% to 45%; but Biden carried it by 6 points in 2020, 52% to 46%.

Washoe County, Nevada: Representing Reno, it’s the swingiest county in Nevada, and it’s where Republicans have to win if they want to flip this battleground in 2024. Clinton carried it by 1 point in 2016, while Biden won it by 5 in 2020.

Erie County, Pennsylvania: As close to Buffalo and Cleveland as it is to Pittsburgh, this is the ultimate blue-collar swing county, NBC’s Steve Kornacki said on “Meet the Press” yesterday. Obama won it by 16 points in 2012; Trump carried it by 2 points in 2016; and Biden won it by 1 point in 2020.

Dane County, Wisconsin: Home to Madison and the University of Wisconsin, this county is all about the Democratic intensity in highly educated college towns. Biden netted 181,327 votes over Trump here in 2020 — up from Clinton’s 146,422 in 2016. And that Dem gain helped the party flip battleground Wisconsin in ‘20, given that Biden won the state by just 20,000 votes.

Anybody have some other swing counties that Dems should focus on?

In “Which 2024 elections are flying under the radar?,” Cooper Burton reports at abcnews.com, via 538, that “This year could see a record-breaking number of states vote on referendums to implement or repeal ranked-choice voting, a system that lets voters rank their candidate choices rather than choosing just one. While 21 states currently use ranked-choice voting in limited or local instances, only two presently use the process as a major part of statewide and/or federal elections — Alaska and Maine. In 2024, that number could double … or decline, depending on the fate of three ballot measures likely to go before voters this year….Nevada and Oregon could pass ranked-choice voting this year….Over in Nevada, voters will head to the polls for the second time to vote on implementing a ranked-choice system in the state. Voters already approvedsuch a ballot measure in 2022, but the state constitution requires citizen-initiated amendments to pass twice before they are enacted, which means the measure will be up again in 2024….The Nevada referendum has an interesting coalition of opponents from across the political spectrum, ranging from both of the state’s Democratic U.S. Senators and the influential state culinary union,…Oregonians will also weigh in on a ballot measure this year that would enact ranked-choice voting in statewide and federal elections. This measure differs from the ones in Alaska and Nevada in that it was put on the ballot by the Democratic-controlled state legislature, rather than through a citizen initiative. That could signal stronger support for the amendment among the state’s Democratic Party establishment — although almost all Republicans opposed the measure in the legislature. Additionally, some cities and counties in Oregon already use ranked-choice voting, meaning that some voters in the state are already familiar with the process and might be less intimidated by it. That may boost the measure’s prospects in a year where the future of ranked-choice voting in other states faces a more challenging outlook.”

Some  thoughts from “How death threats get Republicans to fall in line behind Trump: The insidious way violence is changing American politics — and shaping the 2024 election” by Zack Beauchamp at Vox: “Across the board and around the country, data reveals that threats against public officials have risen to unprecedented numbers — to the point where 83 percent of Americans are now concerned about risks of political violence in their country. The threats are coming from across the political spectrum, but the most important ones in this regard emanate from the MAGA faithful….Trump’s most fanatical followers have created a situation where challenging him carries not only political risks but also personal ones. Elected officials who dare defy the former president face serious threats to their well-being and to that of their families — raising the cost of taking an already difficult stand….As a result, the threat of violence is now a part of the American political system, to the point where Republican officials are — by their own admissions — changing the way they behave because they fear it….“Violence and threats against elected leaders are suppressing the emergence of a pro-democracy faction of the GOP,” writes Rachel Kleinfeld, an expert on political violence at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Absent threats, Kleinfeld argues, a move to Trump from inside the party — perhaps a more serious challenge in the presidential primary — might have had a better chance of getting off the ground….In 2016, the Capitol Police recorded fewer than 900 threats against members of Congress. In 2017, that figure more than quadrupled, per data provided by the Capitol Police….The numbers continued to increase in every year of the Trump presidency, peaking at 9,700 in 2021. In 2022, the first full year of Biden’s term, the numbers went down to a still-high 7,500. The 2023 data has not yet been released, but a spike in threats against legislators during the House Republican speaker fight and Israel-Hamas conflict suggests an increase over the 2022 numbers is plausible….“It’s not even accurate to say [threatening election workers] was rare prior to 2020. It was so rare as to be virtually nonexistent,” David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, told me in 2021. “This is beyond anything that we’ve ever seen.”….Beauchamp provides examples of recent violence and threats and cites “something that’s raising the temperature of American politics, making people feel more angry, afraid, and feeling like they need to take political matters into their own hands….That “something” is Donald Trump.”

Democrats certainly have enough to work on for this year’s presidential, congressional and gubernatorial elections. But looking ahead just a bit further, David Wildstein reports at the New Jersey Globe on U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s GOTV tour of six swing counties in New Jersey, in which she is said to be exploring a possible run for Governor in 2025. The former Navy pilot and Georgetown Law grad is frequently cited as a young ‘up and coming’ progressive centrist on the Democratic political spectrum, who would brighten up the top of the ticket in future presidential elections. As Wildstein notes; “In a bid to raise her statewide profile for a possible gubernatorial bid in 2025, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) spent the weekend crisscrossing the state with appearances in six counties on Saturday and Sunday….Sherrill was in Bergen, Morris, Mercer, Hunterdon, Union, and Somerset, headlining GOTV events….“This weekend, I rallied with local Democratic parties in support of our great candidates up and down the line,” said Sherrill.  “Republicans have made it clear that abortion is on the ballot in the upcoming election, and it’s crucial that New Jersey Democrats turn out to protect the gains we’ve made in our state….Her stop in Bergen County was in the political base of a congressional colleague, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), who is also mulling a run for governor.  She led a canvass launch for Jodi Murphy, a former Westwood councilwoman who is challenging State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) in the 39th district….Last week, Gottheimer was in Sherill’s district to headline a fundraiser for Morris County Democrats and to attend an Essex County Democratic fundraising event….“New Jersey is a strong, progressive leader on issues from reproductive rights, to gun safety, to growing the middle class because we have a strong Democratic Party – not despite that,” said Sherrill. “

Get Ready For a L-O-N-G General Election Campaign

You think a lot of voters are tired of politics this year? Just wait until a few more months have gone by, as I explained at New York:

Back in the days when presidential nominees were chosen by elites at national conventions rather than in mass-participation caucuses and primaries, general elections were pretty brisk affairs. Traditionally, the campaigns kicked things off around Labor Day and conducted a real sprint to early November. Candidate debates didn’t happen before 1960, and then they were generally held in late September or October.

Even in recent years, at least one of the major-party nominees often wasn’t known until well into the election-year calendar. In 2016, for example, Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination on May 26, and Hillary Clinton didn’t nail down the Democratic nomination until June 7. And while Trump’s renomination in 2020 was a given, Joe Biden wasn’t an absolute certainty as his opponent until June 5.

At this point it appears the 2024 match-up will be known much, much earlier. Barring some health crisis, President Biden will again be the Democratic nominee. And barring a huge upset in an early state, Trump will again be the Republican nominee. Trump could have the delegates he needs by early March. He may even be the last candidate standing on February 24, when he is favored to win the South Carolina primary, which is crucial for both Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley.

In all likelihood, then, we’ll soon be dealing with an eight-month general election, the longest since John Kerry ran against George W. Bush in 2004 (Bush was an unchallenged incumbent; Kerry clinched his nomination in March).

The race is going to feel a lot longer than the 2004 election because it’s a rematch. For months, polls have been showing that Americans don’t particularly want to see these two men on their ballots again. They are universally known, and at present, quite unpopular. According to the RealClearPolitics polling averages, Biden’s ratio of favorability to unfavorability is 39.2 percent favorable to 55.3 percent unfavorable, while Trump’s is 39.9 percent favorable to 55.4 percent unfavorable. Biden and Trump are a matched pair of ugly socks in the national leadership drawer. How will another eight months of their omnipresence wear on voters, after their domination of news for the last eight years (or longer in Biden’s case, given his eight years as Barack Obama’s sidekick)?

Yes, it’s possible the condition of the country and the world will make Biden more or less popular as an incumbent, and tempestuous legal dramas are likely to affect perceptions of Trump. But will voters simply get more fatigued with them as presenting a choice they don’t particularly want to make?

If so, that could have a dampening effect on 2024 general-election turnout. And it could also stimulate already-high interest in minor-party or independent candidacies. These typically lose altitude late in a general-election cycle as voters realize they aren’t going to be successful. But that might not be the case in this seemingly eternal battle between two very old men who have been lobbing grenades at each other for such a very long time.

Perhaps something will spice up and refresh the general-election contest. It probably won’t be the conventions, themselves a tired ritual lacking all real drama for decades now. It probably won’t be political ads, which are more relentlessly, predictably negative than they’ve ever been. And it probably won’t be debates, assuming they even occur; any debate involving Trump will be a mud fight. It would be nice if new issues emerged in the course of 2024 that could elicit something we’ve haven’t heard again and again.

More likely than not, however, both campaigns will need to devote even more resources than usual to voter mobilization, as voters are tired of a contest that few can barely remember beginning. One truly useful thing the two major parties could do is to convince Americans their vote will be truly consequential, which won’t at all be a lie or an exaggeration: The 2024 contest will likely be very close, and the stakes — particularly if the resolute anti-constitutionalist Trump wins or again refuses to accept a defeat — could be epochal. Indeed, eight months probably isn’t long enough to cure the electorate of the cynical tendency to believe elections don’t really matter. But it’s one goal Biden and Trump and their supporters ought to be able to share each and every day.

Are Dems Ready for 2024 Political Ad Wars?

You should not be shocked to learn that “The advertising dollars spent on U.S. elections and advocacy issues will grow to roughly $16 billion next year, up 31.2% compared to the last presidential election in 2020, according to a new forecast” by  GroupM, one of the world’s largest paid advertising agencies, Sara Fischer reports at Axios.

OK, ad expenditures up nearly a third from the last presidential election is a pretty big hike, but not a huge shock, considering inflation and the persistence of political polarization.

Every American who looks at images on a screen, either on TV, the internet and even cell phones, should expect an historically-unprecedented deluge of political ads. Oh, and print is not quite dead yet, so there will be more political ads in your mailbox.

Fischer notes further that “A majority of political advertising spend in the U.S. goes to local broadcast TV, but an increasing amount is moving toward digital channels.”  Further, “One of the fastest-growing segments is Connected TV (CTV) advertising, or video ads that run on digital TV sets connected to the internet. They offer campaigns the ability to target their ads more narrowly to voters with certain interests, instead of just age and gender demographics.”

Democrats should hope that the party’s ad gurus are on top of the trend toward Connected TV advertising, so they can better target key constituencies with appropriate ads. And let’s hope that Dems are already busy placing their ads in the most important swing county markets, like Erie County, Pa, as I noted on January 1. And would it be too much to ask that Democrats at least try to reduce the tremendous advantage they have ceded to Republicans on the nation’s radio networks, which penetrate into rural areas?

Of course, it’s not just about ads. Democratic campaigns must improve their game in terms of getting more “earned” media coverage. It’s a tough challenge when the other side has all the bomb throwers. But, as infrastructure projects  enacted by Democrats kick in during the next year, let no Republican who voted against them escape unscathed, especially those who have the temerity to show up for the ribbon-cutting.

The thing to keep in mind about political ads is that they are important for both persuasion and boosting turnout. If we have learned anything about “low information” voters in recent years, it is that there is a lot of room for improved outreach to them. The stakes couldn’t be much higher for both Democrats, and for the future of democracy in the U.S.

Teixeira: Democrats Adrift Without ‘Working Class Anchor’

The following transcription of Paul Gigot’s interview of Ruy Teixeira, co-author with John B. Judis of Where Have All the Democrats Gone?, is cross-posted from the Wall St. Journal:

Paul Gigot: With the 2024 Iowa caucuses less than a month away, the presidential campaign season is in high gear and Democrats are worried. Joe Biden has an approval rating that is downright dreadful, now close to 40% and in head-to-head polling, he loses to Donald Trump and loses by even more to Nikki Haley. Ruy Teixeira says this is explained at least in part by a deterioration of the Democratic party’s winning coalition from 2020. Mr. Teixeira is a political scientist affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute and author with John Judas of the new book Where Have All the Democrats Gone, the Soul of the Party in the Age of Extremes. Welcome back to Potomac watch (inaudible) Ruy. Nice to have you here.

Ruy Teixeira: Hey, thanks for having me, Paul.

Paul Gigot: All right, so you and John Judas wrote a very different book a decade and a half or so ago called The Emerging Democratic Majority. That majority appeared to be daunting under Barack Obama with his victory in 2008 in particular and then 2012, but it has since gone away. What happened?

Ruy Teixeira: Well, the main thing that happened, I think, and this is something we highlighted in our original book from 2002 about That Emerging Democratic Majority is we noted that yeah, there were a lot of things that were changing in the Democrat’s favor in terms of the rise of non-white vote, the realignment of professionals to the Democrats. The movement of a lot of the more dynamic cosmopolitan metro areas of the country toward. The Democrats changes in the women’s vote, which favored them and so on and so forth. But we were remarked that, hey, let’s be realistic here. The white working class is still a massive share of the American electorate and particularly in a lot of key states. And while they’re declining, they’re going to be with us for a long time. Therefore, if the Democrats could not hold on to their minority share of the white working class vote, if that further deteriorated, that would put their coalition in question. And that’s exactly what happened in 2010, then 2014 and then 2016 to everyone in shock, Trump manages to win and any wins really on the back of white working class voters, especially in the Midwest. So that was the white working class. And then I think what’s really fascinating about the last seven or eight years is the way the non-white working class has started to move away from the Democrats. We saw that in the 2020 election where Hispanic working class voters support for Democrats probably declined by about 20 margin points. There was also deterioration in the black working class vote and now we’re seeing it in the polls going up to the 2024 election. So this is really kind of a remarkable development and really points out that the Democrats Coalition was never as stable as they thought. And even something like the non-white vote, Hispanic and black vote and so on is really not stable for them if the working class component of it starts going south. All to shows to go you that the working class is no longer as committed to the Democrats as they once was, and that’s blown a hole in their coalition, which seemed to be so promising at the beginning of the 21st century.

Paul Gigot: All right, the polling sure backs you up. What are the causes as you look at them for this breaking away by working class voters as a cultural liberalism? Is it the fact that the Ann Arbor and Madison and Santa Monica elites don’t have a lot in common with people in Toledo who work in auto plants? What are the main causes?

Ruy Teixeira: Well, it’s all of the above, I think. If you look at the late part of the 20th century, I think certainly the cultural factors are important, but also it’s the decline of the labor movement, removing the working class anchor from the Democrats and the sense Democrats are no longer on the side of working class people who are getting hit by some of the economic changes of the latter part of the 20th century of feeling like Democrats were practicing a sort of soft neoliberalism, they were more interested in trade deals and deregulation than they were interested in the economic situation of the working class. And then in fact, they’d sort of forgotten about the working class in a lot of left behind areas of the country. And we saw that in a sort of a standard Gallup polling question that’s been asked forever, which party is better able to ensure prosperity for the country in the next several years? And that used to be a big democratic advantage and starting in the 80s it really goes away. So a sense that Democrats were no longer on your side economically, even as they were becoming more liberal and especially more liberal in the 21st century. And that’s where I think the cultural issues really start to bite because the Democrats do become so much more left-leaning and if not radical, a lot of issues concerning race and gender, immigration and so on. Then you might even add to that a whole sense that Democrats concerns were less about the working class and more about the priorities of their solid voters in the urban metro areas where culturally liberal white college graduates were so influential. So all of that put together kind of alienates the working class writ large from the Democrats and has contributed to a sense Democrats are no longer the party of the working class, but rather more the party of educated elites who are perhaps less interested in the fate of working class voters than they should be. And then you add to that, but frankly the Trump years prior to the pandemic were actually relatively better for working class voters, including non-whites than the first three years that the Biden administration has. So I think that just underscored the problems a lot of working class voters now have with the Democrats.

Paul Gigot: The Democrats under Bill Clinton did quite well winning two presidential races in the 1990s when you had that so-called neoliberal economic views supporting trade deals, for example, relatively centrist economic views. But where it seems to me this changed most sharply against Democrats in the working class is when you had under the Obama presidency this sharp notable turn towards the left on cultural issues. And I’m thinking about identity politics in particular, which in the second Obama term really has emerged as a dominant issue on the left and has continued under the Biden presidency. So I wonder, I’m pushing back on you a little bit on this economic analysis and more on the cultural concerns and I just would throw onto it, as you mentioned earlier, climate, where in my view it’s become a kind of a cultural religion for an awful lot of young people, and yet that cuts against things like assembly lines for gas powered vehicles. We just had Stellantis, the Chrysler parent warn 3,600 workers in Toledo and Detroit that their jobs are at risk because of California’s electric vehicle mandate.

Ruy Teixeira: I would point out though on the issue of trade deals, and so NAFTA was extremely unpopular in the Midwest among working class voters. And really the China shock in the early 2000s has a big effect on a lot of these communities. And really there’s been some good work that’s shown a relationship between increased republican voting and the influence of the China shock on a lot of these areas of the country. But leaving that aside, I couldn’t agree more that these cultural issues really do start to loom large throughout Obama’s two terms in office, the Black Lives Matter, remember Sterly Starks in 2013 and you see the Democratic party over that decade of the teens really moving so significantly in the direction of identity politics and the climate stuff. I just think that’s huge. I think Democrats really underestimate the extent to which while the elites who dominate the party and some of the younger educated voters they price so highly may think climate’s an existential crisis and there’s no crisis too high to pay to deal with this problem. That’s not how working class voters feel about the economy and about the world and about their priorities. The ranks about number 17 according to some (inaudible) polling in terms of their priorities for what the country needs to pay attention to. So I’ve described it as a Green Achilles Heel at times in terms of the Democrats coalition, that they’re so dedicated, so committed to moving as fast as possible to replace fossil fuels with renewables, whereas I think most working class voters and electric vehicles don’t get me started on that. Most working class voters say, “What?” “You want to do what?” “Why should I sign up for this?” But I think for a lot of Democrats, it’s so important to them that they’re just disregarding these signals.

Paul Gigot: That is fascinating to me because it gets into the religious nature of the belief here in terms of climate. What about identity politics? The breaking down into groups has always been there for quite some time and in fact worked to the Democrats advantage in terms of mobilizing minority groups in their favor when they could portray Republicans as particularly anti minority. That has turned in some respects, and it gets to this point you made earlier about the degree to which the non-white working class is moving away from the Democrats.

Ruy Teixeira: Yeah. I think Hispanics are a really good example of this because I think that Hispanics did support the Democrats at very high levels and they still do to some extent, though that’s declined, because they saw Democrats as being the party that was sympathetic to immigrants and that was on their side economically, it was generally like they might be a little too liberal on some things, but basically fine. But what really changes is when the Democrats start thinking of and insisting that Hispanics think of themselves as people of color who are brown people who are oppressed in the United States, who live in this dystopian hell hole we call the US, and who basically are discriminated against and set upon. And that’s really the problem. That’s not the way Hispanics working class people particularly think about the world. They think about, “I’m here to get ahead in life. I’m here to make a good life for my family. I want communities with safe streets and plenty of opportunity. I’m an American and I want to make my way in America.” And I think when identity politics interferes with that sense, that patriotic, upwardly mobile sense that a lot of Hispanic working class voters have, I think that’s when a lot of them start to draw the line and say, “Well, maybe the Democrats aren’t my party quite in the way I thought.” And the more moderate to conservative these voters are, the more open they are to thinking about voting for the Republicans because I didn’t want to get on the identity politics train. I just wanted to get ahead in life. And I think when Democrats lost track of who these voters really were and started putting them into these boxes that corresponded to their faculty lounge politics view of the world, as James Cardwell once put it, I think they really started to lose some of these voters and will continue to lose them.

Paul Gigot: All right, we’re going to take a break and when we come back we’ll talk more with Ruy Teixeira about the state of the Democratic party.

Speaker 5: Don’t forget, you can reach the latest episode of Potomac Watch anytime. Just ask your smart speaker, play the Opinion Potomac Watch podcast. That is play the Opinion Potomac Watch podcast.

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Paul Gigot: Welcome back. I’m Paul Gigot, here on Potomac Watch talking to Ruy Teixeira, author of the new book, Where Have All The Democrats Gone, the Soul of the Party in the Age of Extremes. So you write that the Democrats to win back the white working class needs to have a focus on their economic concerns and address those economic anxieties concerns. But if you look at the Biden White House and his Democratic party right now, isn’t that what Biden is trying to do with all of his flogging of what they’re calling Bidenomics? And they rolled that out a few months ago along the way, taking a shot at us at the Wall Street Journal we’d first used the word Bidenomics and then they made it their own and said, “Yeah, it’s terrific,” but that doesn’t seem to be helping them in the polls. Why not?

Political Strategy Notes

In “Why 2024’s vibes are so perplexing: ‘Everybody thinks they’re losing’,” Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes: “Gross domestic product grew at an astonishing annual rate of 4.9 percent in the third quarter of 2023…Inflation was tamed without any sign of a widely predicted recession. Unemployment is at 3.7 percent, and real incomes are 2.7 percent above their January 2021 levels, meaning wage increases are outpacing price increases. If someone had shown you these numbers on the day Biden was inaugurated, you might have predicted he would be cruising into a Ronald Reagan-style “Morning in America” reelection campaign….Explaining why he’s not has spawned a growing subspecialty in the world of commentary — and a new word: “vibecession.” Coined by economics educator Kyla Scanlon, it refers to how people feel the country is in recession despite all that good data….If you wonder why there is so much political discontent, look no further than a year-end YouGov survey, which found that both liberals and conservatives believe the country is moving the wrong way — meaning away from their own views. Forty-four percent of liberals said U.S. politics had moved further to the right over the past decade; only 16 percent said things had moved leftward. Among conservatives, 55 percent said politics had moved to the left, while only 15 percent saw a move rightward. (Moderates, appropriately, were split about evenly.)…Democratic pollster Guy Molyneux captured the mood. “Everybody thinks they’re losing,” he told me….For Biden, there is still hope that interest rates will start coming down and the good economic news will finally sink in. He and his party will need to neutralize the issues of crime and immigration without splitting themselves asunder or feeding the worries they are seeking to quell.”

At Brookings, Dionne explains why “For Biden, youth vote polling is a warning, not the apocalypse,” and observes: “An analysis of the 2022 exit polls by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University found that in 2022 U.S. Senate races, Democrats got 70% of the youth vote or more in Arizona, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania and 60% or more in Georgia, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin….Commenting on this year’s off-year elections, Semafor’s Jordan Weissman offered a pithy take on X underscoring the same point: “At the moment, young people hate the Democratic party, except on election day.”….None of this means that Biden and the Democrats should ignore recent polls suggesting trouble for Biden among young voters in matchups against Donald Trump….Daniel Cox, director of the Survey Center on American Life and a senior fellow in polling and public opinion at the American Enterprise Institute, pointed to basic reasons for a certain skepticism toward presidential polls this far out from Election Day, especially among young voters “who mostly do not pay attention to politics at this early stage.” Many of these surveys, moreover, have relatively small samples of young Americans. Cox observed that some of the surveys might reflect the likelihood that “young conservatives were more committed to Trump than young liberals were to Biden.”….The difficulty of gauging exactly where young voters stand was underscored in the fall 2023 Harvard Youth Poll conducted by the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School. It is one of the best ongoing surveys of young voters. Conducted between late October and early November, it found that Biden enjoyed a 10-point lead among all adults under 30, a 15-point lead among young people who said they were registered to vote, and a 24-point lead among the most likely voters. This advantage matched Biden’s lead over Trump in the 2020 exit polls. Your view of where Biden stands might depend on which of these numbers you focus on….Cox’s conclusion is that some of the recent findings are not “apocalyptic” but should “alarm” the Biden campaign, nonetheless. That’s the right attitude: The Biden campaign should not panic, but it should be worried — and act on that worry….I agree with my colleague Bill Galston that economic concerns are a major part of this story, and the Biden campaign needs to deal especially with prices to win back support both among the young and in the broader electorate. Its economic messaging needs a lot of improvement….I have been pushing for some time for what we’ll update as the Next Generation Act of 2023. It could include job training for a rapidly transforming economy; new stabs at student loan forgiveness and wider access to higher education, including community college; comprehensive childcare and early education; and seed money, similar to provisions of the GI Bill, for young people to buy homes and start their own businesses. This could be linked to a much larger national service program.”

Steven Shepard explains “Why a Trump conviction might not save Biden’s reelection” at Politico: “Take last week’s Wall Street Journal poll. Trump led Biden by 4 percentage points in a head-to-head matchup, 47 percent to 43 percent. The race shifted only slightly, to a 1-point Biden lead, among respondents who were also asked what they would do if Trump were convicted in either of the two federal cases, either for unlawfully possessing classified documents or conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election….Since only about half of the respondents were asked about a hypothetical Trump conviction, the two results aren’t directly comparable. But they suggest a massive swing against Trump is unlikely. And the margins are small: With just a 1-point lead in a hypothetical Trump conviction scenario, Democrats can’t rely on a small post-conviction swing tipping the race….And that’s if he’s even convicted before the election. Though Trump’s 2024 calendar is littered with planned trial dates up and down the Eastern Seaboard, there’s no guarantee that those cases won’t be pushed until after Election Day….Last month’s New York Times/Siena College poll asked likely voters in six Biden-won swing states who said they weren’t supporting him — a collection of Trump voters and those who said they were undecided — what they would do if Trump “were convicted and sentenced to prison but were still the Republican nominee.”….Most of them would still vote for Trump, but 5 percent of the likely electorate across those swing states said they would vote for Biden under that circumstance. That’s potentially enough to tilt the race to the Democratic incumbent — but it’s not guaranteed, especially with Biden already trailing….Most of that 5-point shift came from voters who were undecided or preferred another candidate in the initial Biden-Trump contest. The New York Times/Siena crosstabs also suggest young voters and independents who hadn’t picked Biden before were slightly more likely to say they would vote for him if Trump were convicted….There are a few polls that suggest a Trump conviction could be more significant, but they mostly gloss over the polarization of the electorate. In a Reuters/Ipsos poll this month, 64 percent of Americans said they would at least somewhat agree with the statement that Trump “should not run for president” if he’s convicted of a crime. But saying he shouldn’t run is a far cry from saying they wouldn’t vote for him with only a limited number of choices on the ballot.”

Political commentators talk a lot about “swing states.” But what puts the ‘swing’ in states very often comes down to particular counties. In “Where is the competition in 2024? Here are the places to watch in next year’s race for the White House” at USA Today, Savannah Kuchar spotlights five counties across the U.S. which could decide the 2024 presidential election. Her list includes: Maricopa County, AZ; Erie County, PA; Kent County, MI; Miami-Dade, FL; and Dane County, WI. She probably should have added Gwinnett or Cherokee County, GA. But here’s her take on Erie County, PA, which could be the most important county for swinging the most electoral votes: “Located in the northwestern tip of Pennsylvania, Erie County has swung back and forth for Democrats and Republicans in recent elections, leaving the question of who voters there will go for in 2024…. Four years after former President Barack Obama won the county with a commanding lead, Trump secured a victory in the state in 2016 by less than a point and in the blue-collar county by 2 points….Erie County flipped yet again, though, in 2020, going for Biden 50% to 49%….As many expect a Biden-Trump rematch in 2024, Americans may have to stay up for the outcome in Erie next election night.” Whatever the outcome of the 2024 elections, we can be sure that TV stations in these counties, especially Erie, are going to rake in some huge political ad revenues.

Maine’s Removal of Trump from Ballot Helps Case for Biden

Stephen Collinson notes in “Risks of US electoral chaos deepen after Trump is barred from another state ballot” at CNN Politics:

Maine’s decision only deepened the unprecedented legal and political tangle surrounding the 2024 campaign – all of which stems from Trump’s refusal to accept defeat and his historic challenge to the fabled US transfer of power. After all, two states have now found that a former president engaged in an insurrection against the US government – an unheard of state of affairs at any other moment in history.

The controversy, however, also raises new questions over whether efforts to make Trump pay for January 6 are justified on the grounds of protecting America’s democracy from a uniquely pernicious challenge or could backfire politically against President Joe Biden and Democrats next fall. The multiple criminal charges Trump is facing have tended to hike his popularity among base voters even if his wild anti-democratic conduct in 2020 could be a major general election liability.

So the political risk is that cascading disqualifications of Trump from various state ballots will “energize” his supporters, making it more likely that they will turn out in greater numbers. But that value added for his campaign could be offset to some extent by energizing turnout of Americans who are disgusted by Trump’s glaring disrespect for free and fair elections.

The moral risk in giving Trump a free ride on state ballots, despite compelling evidence that he has in fact participated in attempting to invalidate free elections with force is further deterioration in American democracy. It is hard to understand how any reasonable and honest person can say that he is innocent of inciting insurrection. As Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows explained her decision,

“I do not reach this conclusion lightly,” Bellows said. “Democracy is sacred … I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”

Colllinson adds that “Bellows wrote that the challengers presented compelling evidence that the January 6 insurrection “occurred at the behest of” Trump – and that the US Constitution “does not tolerate an assault on the foundations of our government.” The case would be stronger after Trump is found guilty. But time is running out as his legal team seizes every opportunity to stall adjudication of his 91 indictments, which is sadly a real possibility in our glacially-paced legal system. Trump’s campaign is a dumpster fire. But it is a slow-burning one, thanks to the legal stalling.

Meanwhile the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that Trump gets to stay on the GOP primary ballot, despite new evidence of Trump trying to prevent certification of Biden’s Michigan victory.  As William Brangham reports at pbsnews.org:

A report from Michigan further peels back the curtain on Trump’s efforts to nullify the results of the 2020 election. The Detroit News listened to a partial recording of Trump and RNC chair Ronna McDaniel reportedly pressuring the Republican chair and another member of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers not to certify the results there despite no evidence of fraud. William Brangham reports.

Hey, when are Americans going to get to hear that recording?

Cody Williams and Nicholas Riccardi of A.P. report that “The Michigan and Colorado cases are among dozens hoping to keep Trump’s name off state ballots.” Yes, dozens. Consider for a moment the level of denial required among Trump supporters to believe that they are all wrong.

Even so, prospects for the disqualifications being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court are not good, owing in no small part to Republicans having packed the High Court.

But Democrats at least have a potent talking point to raise during the next ten months in reminding swing voters that Democracy is very much on the 2024 ballot. They should use it again and again.

Political Strategy Notes

Steven Greenhouse, who covered the labor beat for the New York Times for more than three decades, has a new article, “Broken’ US labor laws could hamper union wins for workers, experts warn: Strikes by autoworkers, actors and writers brought wins in 2023, but analysts worry labor laws could undo progress” at The Guardian. It is a must-read for Dems who want to understand is going on in the labor movement. Greenhouse writes: “Strikes by autoworkers, writers, actors and nurses and a threatened strike by UPS workers all led to significant wins in 2023. “The big challenge for labor in 2024 will be to take that momentum and turn it into new organizing and getting first contracts where workers have organized,” said Ken Jacobs, the co-director of the UC Berkeley Labor Center. “That’s going to be a real challenge because labor law in the US is broken.”….Among the big tests that labor faces is whether the United Auto Workers (UAW) will succeed in using the impressive contracts it won with Detroit’s automakers to organize Toyota, Tesla and other non-union auto plants, especially in the anti-union south. Another challenge is whether the Starbucks, Amazon, Trader Joe’s, Apple, Chipotle and REI workers who have unionized over the past two years will finally get first contracts that deliver improved wages and benefits….During 2023, there were several major contract disputes, including ones involving 340,000 Teamsters at UPS, 150,000 screen and television actors, 140,000 autoworkers and 85,000 Kaiser Permanente workers. In each of those negotiations, unions came away boasting of record contracts, although only after the actors, autoworkers and Kaiser workers went on strike. “2023 has been huge for labor, both the extraordinary increase in large strikes beyond and the success of workers through those strikes,” Jacobs said. “That’s a really a turnaround from where we had been.”….“Strike activity might not reach the same level next year but it’s still an opportune time to go on strike,” said Johnnie Kallas, director of the ILR Labor Action Tracker, which keeps a tally of strikes across the US. Many labor experts say it’s a favorable time to go on strike because the labor market is tight, public approval for unions is at its highest level in decades, and there’s a vigorously pro-union president in the White House….The UAW hopes its record contracts with Detroit’s automakers will set up organizing victories at auto and battery plants across the south. It has announced plans to seek to unionize Toyota, Tesla, Mercedes and BMW, and its effort to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is racing ahead of the others, with more than 1,000 VW workers signing pro-union cards. But some auto executives, most notably Tesla’s Elon Musk, have served notice that the UAW is unwelcome. “I disagree with the idea of unions,” Musk said recently. ”

Greenhouse continues, “The UAW hopes its record contracts with Detroit’s automakers will set up organizing victories at auto and battery plants across the south. It has announced plans to seek to unionize Toyota, Tesla, Mercedes and BMW, and its effort to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is racing ahead of the others, with more than 1,000 VW workers signing pro-union cards. But some auto executives, most notably Tesla’s Elon Musk, have served notice that the UAW is unwelcome. “I disagree with the idea of unions,” Musk said recently….Joseph McCartin, a labor historian at Georgetown University, voiced relative optimism for the UAW. “They’re in a better position to make a move on these companies than they have ever been,” he said. “They not only have a great contract to show what they’ve accomplished, but they have the will to wage the campaign in a way that the union has not for a long time. It’s bound to be a really important campaign. There’s going to be a furious struggle.”….Many labor leaders see another important challenge for 2024: to help ensure that Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee for president. McCartin said the 2024 election is reminiscent of 1948. “If you think about Harry Truman – he was not doing well in the polls, he was struggling, his party was divided,” with rival candidates Strom Thurmond and Henry Wallace, McCartin said. “When Truman won, he said that labor did it.”….McCartin said Biden is also facing a “situation of how to hold together: Biden has a youth problem. People under 35 are not enthused about him. In my view, labor is well-positioned to be an engine for the re-election of Biden. But it’s hard to prognosticate.”….Jones of the University of Minnesota said: “Labor has to play a big role. I think it’s going to be a make or break. Biden has talked a lot about turning out working-class voters, particularly white men. He’s been fairly successful at that. There’s a lot of talk of him losing support among Black and Latino voters. So the degree that Biden can turn out white, working-class voters is really critical. That’s something the UAW and other unions can really help with.” Jones said unions could make a pivotal difference in industrial states such as Michigan and Ohio….Arguably the biggest challenge labor faces is whether unions can finally begin to reverse the decline in union membership and in the percentage of workers in unions. Just 10% of workers are in unions, down from more than 20% during the 1980s ….Reversing the decline in union membership “is the big test”, Jacobs said, adding: “The UAW demonstrated what a union can do when its members are fully engaged and taking on the boss. Can unions turn that into new organizing and expanding and increasing union density? In the context of our very broken labor law, none of this is easy. But I’m the most optimistic I’ve been since I began doing this work.”

In “What issues will matter most to Hispanic voters in 2024?,” Monica Potts and Holly Fuong write at 538 that their  “analysis of data from the Cooperative Election Study, a Harvard University survey of at least 60,000 Americans taken before the 2020 elections and the 2022 midterms, shows that Hispanic voters remain to the left of the general electorate on key issues like immigration and environmental policy. In other areas, Hispanic voters are largely similar to the general electorate….”Most [Hispanic voters] are not single-issue voters,” said Melissa Morales, the president and founder of Somos Votantes and Somos PAC, an independent outreach group that has endorsed Democratic candidates. “There’s a bunch of things that are going to come in to affect how they vote.”….Overall, Hispanic voters* made up about 11 percent of the electorate in 2020. That’s relatively low compared to an estimated 19 percent of the total U.S. population. But they’re also the fastest-growing demographic group in the country. And while the share of this group that’s eligible to vote and turning out to vote is low compared to other groups, it’s growing every year….CES data shows that Hispanic voters are more likely to be young, with more than 30 percent of those voters under 30, compared with 21 percent of the general electorate. That means many of them are squarely in a generation that’s already more diverse and further to the left on many issues than the general electorate. And only 13 percent are 65 or older, compared to 22 percent of the general electorate….Hispanic Americans are less educated on average than the electorate as a whole: Based on 2020 CES data, about half have only a high school education, while 19 percent are college graduates, compared with 37 percent and 31 percent of the general electorate, respectively. What will happen within the huge group of Hispanic voters without college degrees, and why, is one of the big unanswered questions both parties are facing as we head into the 2024 presidential election….In the 2020 CES, Hispanic voters were 14 points more likely than the general electorate to support giving legal status to immigrants who have held jobs and not been convicted of a crime. They were also less likely to support increasing border security measures like hiring more border patrol officers and building a wall than the general electorate, and less supportive of measures to curb legal immigration. Their stances on immigration questions differed from the general electorate by 9 to 13 points, showing that the group was significantly more liberal. The differences were similar in 2022.”

Potts and Fuong note further, “In 2016, when Trump ran a campaign focused on anti-immigration policies, he lost Hispanic voters to the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, two to one….But his anti-immigration rhetoric didn’t turn out a record wave of Hispanic voters to vote against him and become solidly loyal Democrats, as some had predicted. Instead, his base of support among the group was on par with or even better than that shown for previous nominees Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain. That led observers to conclude that a significant and steady minority of Hispanic voters, around a third, were probably conservative and unlikely to abandon Republicans….In 2020, Trump made gains among Hispanic voters. Immigration was a less important issue that year, when voters were much more focused on COVID-19 and the economic wreckage surrounding the pandemic. Biden won the group overall, 59 percent to 38 percent, but Trump made gains among a specific group: those without college degrees….Immigration has been rising in salience among voters and continues to be a losing issue for Biden. Whether it’s a winning issue for either party among Hispanic voters remains to be seen, however. Republican front-runner Trump has made overtly racist and fascist remarks about immigration, while Biden has signaled he’s willing to deal with Republicans on immigration policy in order to pass aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia — a stance that could turn off some Hispanic voters. “The Democratic Party needs to make sure that they’re not bargaining away the rights of immigrants in this country, because it is still a very, very important issue to the Latino community,” Tzintzún Ramirez said….On issues of policing, like decreasing the number of police officers on the street or eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, Hispanics were not consistently further to the left or right of the overall electorate, and the differences were small. On a wide range of other issues included in the CES, ranging from banning assault rifles to allowing abortions as a matter of choice, Hispanics also did not vary significantly or predictably from the general electorate….One area that did stand out was policies related to health care access. Hispanics in 2020 were more likely to support expanding Medicare to cover all Americans than the general electorate was by 14 points, and they were more likely to support lowering the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 50 by the same margin….Analysis from Equis Research showed that, in 2022, Hispanic voters, like most voters, were concerned about the economy and cost of living, and that those who rated that as their top concern were more likely to support Republican candidates.”