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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Rural Voter

The new book White Rural Rage employs a deeply misleading sensationalism to gain media attention. You should read The Rural Voter by Nicholas Jacobs and Daniel Shea instead.

Read the memo.

There is a sector of working class voters who can be persuaded to vote for Democrats in 2024 – but only if candidates understand how to win their support.

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.

Democrats should stop calling themselves a “coalition.”

They don’t think like a coalition, they don’t act like a coalition and they sure as hell don’t try to assemble a majority like a coalition.

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.

Democrats ignore the central fact about modern immigration – and it’s led them to political disaster.

Democrats ignore the central fact about modern immigration – and it’s led them to political disaster.

Read the memo.

 

The Daily Strategist

May 30, 2024

Democrats Should Make It Clear America IS Better Off Than It Was Four Years Ago

We started hearing a familiar question from Republicans recently, and figured I’d answer it at New York:

What was the worst year of your life?

The answer will obviously vary, but it’s a good bet the year 2020 will rank pretty high in any list of wretched years. After all, it’s when COVID-19 arrived. The pandemic eventually took over a million lives just in America. Our economy collapsed. Schools and businesses closed, unemployment sky-rocketed, most people were isolated and terrified. As scientists struggled to figure out how the virus spread, how to keep from contracting it, and how to treat it, most Americans were hoarding hand sanitizer, paper towels, and toilet paper; avoiding door knobs, hand rails, and other shared surfaces; and obsessively cleaning their groceries and their mail.

It was indeed a time most of us would prefer to forget. And it seems the Republican Party is counting on that. As Noah Berlatsky of Public Notice points out, Republicans are now regularly trotting out Ronald Reagan’s famous 1980 debate question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?,” as though it’s a slam-dunk winner for them:

“’Are you better off today than you were four years ago?’ Rep. Elise Stefanik asked during a news conference last week. She answered her own question by saying ‘the answer is a resounding no.’ Lara Trump, the new co-chair of the Republican National Committee, said virtually the same thing to Sean Hannity on Tuesday. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott echoed that sentiment on Fox News as well, saying, ‘We have to go back to that future, 2017-2020. We want those four years one more time.’”

Seriously? All of the Trump years?

Despite the many problems with her weird, mendacious response to the State of the Union Address, Republican senator Katie Britt was smart enough not to claim 2020 as the joyous climax of four great years. Instead she asked viewers if they were “better off than they were three years ago,” dating back to Joe Biden’s first address to Congress in 2021. Ah, but that comparison, while it lends itself to the negative case against Biden, does not make the comparative case for Donald Trump’s alleged superiority. So throwing caution to the wind, Republicans will grit their teeth and ask persuadable voters to misremember 2020 as a monument to an American greatness that we have sadly lost once again.

Now it’s true that everything bad about 2020 was not attributable to Trump, and that voters may not necessarily put responsibility on him for the failure to manage a pandemic that baffled us all (though his tardiness in taking it seriously definitely cost lives and should never be forgotten). But nor is Biden responsible for all the ills of the world right now (including some maladies left to him by the Trump administration, like economic volatility and supply-chain problems). Rightly or wrongly, presidents are held responsible for nearly everything that happens on their watch; that’s the big downside to the job of being “leader of the free world,” with all its cool perks like Air Force One and Camp David. If Republicans are going to attack Biden over discontents ranging from gasoline prices to the horrors of war in Ukraine and Gaza, they’ll have to accept that the final year of that magical Trump presidency was quite the bummer. As a matter of fact, 2017 through 2019 weren’t exactly a golden era of good government, but for most Americans conditions of life were better than they became four years ago.

The GOP really needs to rethink its talking points. It takes a special kind of amnesia or insensitivity to look back at 2020 with great fondness. For most of us, the answer to the question “Are you better off than you were four years ago” is “Hell yes.”


Gardner and Greenberg: They Don’t Want Trump OR Biden. Here’s How They Still Can Elect Biden

Page Gardner of PSG Consulting is a senior political and communications strategist who founded the Voter Participation Center and the Center for Voter Information and has recently launched Innovating for the Public Good: R&D for Democracy. Stanley B. Greenberg, a founding partner of Greenberg Research, Democracy Corps, and Climate Policy & Strategy, and Prospect board member, is a New York Times best-selling author and co-author of ‘It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!’ The following article is cross-posted from The American Prospect:

President Biden and Donald Trump have now each won enough delegates to ensure their respective presidential nominations. Yet we are facing an election in which an unprecedented share of voters desperately wish that the two major parties don’t nominate these leaders.

We’ve had such “dual haters” before. In 2016, when Hillary Clinton faced Donald Trump, they comprised 18 percent of the voters and they played a pivotal role in putting Trump in the White House. They gave Trump an over 20-point margin in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

This year, the “dual haters” are 23 percent of the electorate, and they will not be easy voters for Biden to win. Right now, he is losing them by 8 points in a two-way contest and by 10 in the multicandidate field.

These numbers come from a survey of 2,500 potential voters in battleground states that Democracy Corps and PSG Consulting conducted at the end of 2023, which included 500 over- samples of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians at the end of the year. Our survey used the thermometer scale used by the University of Michigan’s National Election Studies, asking voters to give “warm” and “cool” ratings on a 100-degree thermometer.

The most important finding was the share of these “dual haters” who are potential swing voters. Fully 45 percent are independents; 51 percent are moderates. Only 4 percent are “very conservative.” And a 55 percent majority say they’ll vote for independent candidates, led by Robert F. Kennedy. In a simulated race against Biden, 57 percent said they’d choose Nikki Haley.

This is a group of voters that could break for Biden.

We cheered President Biden’s spirited State of the Union speech, which could reverse the momentum and get this race back to parity. It was a speech that could well have won over some moderate Republicans and Liz Cheney conservatives.

But the president was not yet speaking to the “dual haters,” though he will have many more opportunities to do that in this long campaign.

The president started the speech by declaring “the state of our Union is strong and getting stronger”—which probably didn’t ring true for these alienated and angry voters. A daunting 91 percent of such voters say the country is “on the wrong track.” They are looking for a big change; barring that, many would choose not to vote. Only a third chose 10 on the 1-to-10 ladder that measures voter interest, compared to over half of all voters. They are not close news-watchers and might well have skipped a 68-minute speech.

Democrats will have a better chance of winning them if they bring a more accurate view of what they have achieved and how it impacted people. The expanded Child Tax Credit, for example, expired and many reductions in prescription drug prices are anticipated in the future. Working people saw bigger wage gains under Trump; consumer confidence is still 20 points below its level when Biden took office; and by a wide margin, “dual haters” think Trump will help more than Biden in ensuring wages keep up with prices. They give the Republicans a 33-point advantage on “getting things done.”

But Biden can still get ahead with these voters because our survey of the battleground shows he has the potential to get heard on abortion and women’s rights, and on opposition to MAGA Republicans. He can connect with these voters’ fear of autocracy and white supremacists. They liked his joining a picket line and getting billionaires to pay taxes. They wanted to hear more on climate change.

This is just the launch of the 2024 campaign. Past Democratic presidential campaigns have altered their strategy and message and made dramatic gains around the time of the Democratic conventions in August.

Consider the example of two presidential campaigns that co-author Greenberg advised.

In 2000, Al Gore trailed George W. Bush by about 10 points for the entire year before the party conventions. After the Republican convention, Bush’s lead grew to a remarkable 17 points.

At the Democratic convention, though, Gore delivered a powerful pro­–working class acceptance speech. That wiped out Bush’s long-held lead. The candidates were tied after Labor Day, and this working-class message and strategy gave Gore a small lead going into the debates at the end of September.

The debates were a disaster, however. They put Bush into the lead, though our polls showed us with a fraction-of-a-point lead on Election Day. (And, of course, Gore did beat Bush in the national popular vote count.)

(MORE)


Political Strategy Notes

Among the frequently-heard comments of not-so-political friends are variations of “I’m so sick of him. I just want him to go away.” Indeed, eight years of media obsession with Trump’s every folly have made many Americans tune out at some point, including yours truly.  Voters elected FDR four times. But he didn’t bellow lies, bully talk or try to overturn duly certified elections. If you have been wondering if and when something like “Trump Fatigue” will start to make a difference, you are not alone. A quick google of “Trump fatigue” pulls up an endless stream of articles. Here are a few choice comments from them: NYT’s Katie Glueck noted last month that “Democrats are hardly alone in their political fatigue: A Pew Research Center survey last year found that 65% of Americans said they always or often felt exhausted when they thought about politics.” No doubt some of this is simply because there is a lot more media nowadays. But the phenomenon is no less real. Or, if you are wondering about the mental health aspects of Trump fatigue, check out  “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” the Amazon summary of which notes, “Craig Malkin writes on pathological narcissism and politics as a lethal mix. Gail Sheehy, on a lack of trust that exceeds paranoia. Lance Dodes, on sociopathy. Robert Jay Lifton, on the “malignant normality” that can set in everyday life if psychiatrists do not speak up….he has created unprecedented mental health consequences across our nation and beyond.” Sebastian Cahill writes at Business Insider, “Jared Carter, a Vermont Law and Graduate School law professor, told Insider people are tired of hearing about Trump’s actions and have been for several years….”A part of the reason Trump lost the 2020 election is people were tired of it,” Carter said, referring to Trump’s continuous scandals. “It’s exhausting, for journalists and the public to be constantly having this guy living in their minds.” Is ‘Trump fatigue’ a widespread, verifiable thing outside of anecdotal accounts? Liberals probably hear indications of it a lot. But tightly-framed polling data that reference it directly among centrists, independents and swing voters, or by education/class is scarce.

Rachel M. Cohen explains “Why abortion politics might not carry Democrats again in 2024” at Vox: “Democrats’ decision to center the overthrow of Roe is rooted largely in the massive success they’ve had running on abortion rights over the last two years, which helped them win a slew of special elections and outperform expectations in the 2022 midterms, staving off a red wave and keeping control of the US Senate. Pro-abortion ballot measures won in all seven states in which they appeared on the ballot since Dobbs, even in red states like Kentucky, Montana, and Kansas….Given this strategy’s success in the midterm and special elections, centering abortion rights seems like a safe bet for Biden in 2024. But the special circumstances of presidential elections — and the masses of voters they tend to attract — suggest this strategy is more of a gamble than it first appears….So-called “low-propensity” voters, meanwhile, are generally not following politics closely and are less likely to have gone to college. They’re unlikely to be watching Fox News or MSNBC, probably not posting any Instagram stories about the Middle East or sending money to candidates. They are often less sure about what each party stands for, but they do generally turn out to vote, partly because voting is habitual, and for many it is seen as a civic duty. These particular voters (also referred to as “infrequent” voters or “less engaged” voters) have not yet turned out since 2020, or 18 months before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade….Polling indicates that it’s these voters that Biden is now struggling with, those who cast ballots for him four years ago but now are leaning toward Donald Trump or considering staying home on Election Day. Things have grown especially dire for the president among young, Black, and Hispanic low-propensity voters. Nate Cohn, the chief political analyst for the New York Times, said in October these less engaged voters “might just be the single biggest problem” facing Biden….And for these voters in particular, abortion rights are simply not among the top issues they say they care about….First, the good news for Democrats: Low-propensity voters also support abortion rights. Broadly speaking, they even tend to identify as slightly more “pro-choice” than the rest of the electorate, according to Bryan Bennett, a pollster with the progressive polling firm Navigator. (Per Navigator’s data, infrequent voters are about 67 percent pro-choice and 27 percent anti-abortion, compared to the rest of the country that’s 64 percent pro-choice and 31 percent anti-abortion.).”

Cohen continues, “Among most voters — high-propensity and low — inflation and jobs top the list of issues they say are most important to them. Among low-propensity voters in particular, Bennett told me, jobs and inflation rank even higher than among the country overall. “So the high-level takeaway is that these are deeply economically focused folks,” he said….When Navigator asked low-propensity voters which issues they feel are most important for Congress to focus on, those voters ranked inflation and jobs highest, followed by health care (34 percent), then corruption in government, immigration, climate change, crime, Social Security and Medicare, and education all between 27 and 22 percent. Only after that did 17 percent of low-propensity voters rank abortion a top issue for Congress….Danielle Deiseroth, executive director of Data for Progress, said their initial findings showedamong likely Biden-to-Trump voters that the economy was their most commonly cited important issue. “Abortion almost ranked dead last in terms of issue importance, tied with race relations and education, and just ahead of LGBTQ+ issues,” Deiseroth added….Abortion rights ballot measures won in all seven states, largely because Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for them. Looking at the crosstabs, experts found that abortion ballot measures tended to over-perform with white Republican voters and underperform with non-white Democratic voters….Another reason the strategy may still work is because by and large fewer than usual low-propensity voters may turn out in November this year, and there’s little doubt abortion rights remain a salient issue for high-propensity voters who lean Democratic….even if they don’t change their campaign focus, Democrats may benefit from their advantage with high-propensity voters. A Grinnell College survey from October found 2020 Trump voters were four points less likely to say they were definitely going to cast a ballot this year than 2020 Biden voters, and surveys from Marquette University found Biden performing better among likely voters than registered ones. Researchers I spoke with said they expect the president’s polling performance with college-educated voters and self-identified Democrats to improve as the campaign stretches on. If these voters turn out for the president, and overall turnout remains on the lower end, Biden has a better chance.”

It’s still unclear whether RFK, Jr.’s presidential candidacy will hurt President Biden or Trump more, or draw equally from both of them. But if his numbers are still in double-digit territory during the next few months, and if it appears he would hurt Democratic prospects as an Independent candidate in the general election, Democratic ad-makers will be able to mine a lot of negative material from his veep list bios. I’m getting a whiff of red herring from the recent media buzz about former quarterback Aaron Rodgers being RFK, Jr.’s front-runner. If he picks Rodgers, however, expect significant loss of Kennedy’s liberal supporters, owing to Rodgers’ alleged comments about the Sandy Hook massacre being an “inside job.” A Rodgers pick would also appear to be a doubling down on Kennedy’s anti-vaxxer rep. Former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura has some authentic political cred and was a former Governor of Minnesota. He might bring some value added for liberal voters as a result of his views favoring making recreational Mary legal, gay rights and more investment in education. But he was an avid supporter of Rep Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential run, despite Paul’s criticism of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and ugly racial comments that have been attributed to Paul, via his newsletter. Paul’s son, Republican Sen. Rand Paul is also on RFK, Jr.’s veep short list, despite having criticized the Civil Rights Act of 1964, opposed Obamacare, abortion rights and voted against restrictions on the sale of assault-style weapons. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who served four terms in congress and ran for president in 2020, is one of the more qualified picks on the list. But she has  political baggage that will deter liberals, including her campaigning for Republican candidates J.D. Vance, Adam Laxalt and Kari Lake against their Democratic opponents. Some liberals may like that she supported the 2016 presidential candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders. Andrew Yang, also a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, has had his name chucked into the RFK, Jr. short list, and he is probably the most likable and public-spirited of the bunch. Currently co-chair of the “Forward Party,” Yang’s signature issue has been the “universal basic income,” which may win some support among progressives, while arousing skepticism among ‘how you gonna pay for it?’ moderates. Yang didn’t get much traction in his presidential campaign, and he dropped out of his race for New York City Mayor.  The very latest buzz is that Nicole Shanahan is RFK  Jr.’s veep front-runner. Shanahan “does not technically have political experience. However she has donated very large sums of money to Democratic candidates,” according to Robby Soave and Briahna Joy Gray of The Hill. As a whole, it’s an uninspiring veep short list. The Biden campaign will have plenty to work with, if Kennedy’s candidacy gathers momentum.


Teixeira: The Democrats and the Rise of Racial Radicalism

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, politics editor of The Liberal Patriot newsletter and co-author with John B. Judis of the new Book “Where Have All the Democrats Gone?,” is cross-posted from The Liberal Patriot:

In the 1960s, spurred by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Educationand the civil rights movement, the United States undertook what has been called a “second Reconstruction.” Washington passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This legislation, it was hoped, would bring the country closer to fulfilling Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that his children “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” But while these reforms sparked the development of a black middle class, and ended Jim Crow discrimination in the South, American blacks still suffered from discrimination, and many were afflicted with joblessness, broken families, drug addiction, and violent crime.

The persistence of racial inequality sparked a debate over what should be done among conservatives, liberals, social democrats, and radicals. In the last decade, the radicals, whose political views we consider divisive and based on an outworn conception of American society, have become ascendant. Their ranks include a well-funded organization, Black Lives Matter, and best-selling authors and Ivy League professors. They also boast the support of liberal foundations, policy groups, think tanks, and media. Their radical views have become identified in the public mind with the Democratic Party and are a significant obstacle to the party reclaiming its historic role as the party of the common man and woman.

The Debate

This debate over what should be done dates back to the last decades of the twentieth century. Initially there were three clear alternatives. Conservatives blamed blacks’ failure to progress on a culture that devalued family, education, and work. They blamed the permissiveness of Johnson’s War on Poverty and increased welfare benefits for fostering that culture and called for cutting welfare payments and requiring recipients to work.

Left-wing or social-democratic theorists brought a class analysis to bear. A key figure was William Julius Wilson, a University of Chicago sociologist. In two widely read books, The Declining Significance of Race and The Truly Disadvantaged, Wilson attributed the rise of this desiccated black underclass in cities like Chicago primarily to the exodus of blue-collar industries and the departure to the suburbs of the black working and middle class, which had “reinforced and perpetuated mainstream patterns of norms and behavior.”

Wilson rejected explanations that put the blame entirely on racism for the plight of the inner cities. “One does not have to ‘trot out’ the concept of racism to demonstrate, for example, that blacks have been severely hurt by deindustrialization because of their heavy concentration in the automobile, rubber, steel, and other smokestack industries,” he wrote.

Wilson also rejected affirmative action as a blanket solution to racial inequality.  “The race-specific policies emanating from the civil rights revolution, although beneficial to more advantaged blacks (i.e., those with higher income, greater education and training, and more prestigious occupations), do little for those who are truly disadvantaged,” he wrote. Instead, Wilson urged government policies that would promote full employment and higher wages, along with universal childcare and family allowance programs. These programs, he argued, would ease the burden of inner-city families without provoking a racial backlash. Criticized by radicals for offering “conservative” remedies for poverty, Wilson responded, “I am a social-democrat.”

Radicals, who hearkened back to the black power movement of the Sixties and the Black Panther Party, rejected Wilson’s class analysis. They argued that Brown v. the Board of Education and the Civil Rights Acts had failed to dislodge an underlying racism that affected all blacks. They called this racism “systemic,” “systematic,” and “structural.” They called for aggressive affirmative action, including quotas, the abandonment of race-neutral standards in school admissions, and racial reparations.

Law students and professors created what they called “Critical Race Theory” or CRT. One of CRT’s chief theorists, UCLA Law Professor Kimberle Williams Crenshaw described blacks’ situation at the end of the twentieth century as “American apartheid.” Black politicians and activists also revived the call for reparations. In 1987, the National Conference of Black Lawyers and two other groups formed the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations. In 1994, they assembled an all-star cast in Detroit, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rep. John Conyers, and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, to endorse its demand for reparation and Conyers’ bill to set up a Congressional commission to “study and develop reparations proposals.”

The conservative approach to racial equality, stressing flaws in black culture traceable to liberal permissiveness, would continue to be influential among Republicans. Wilson would receive awards for his books on the economic roots of race relations, but his proposal for labor market strategies that would stem deindustrialization would be ignored by the Clinton and Obama administrations. Critical Race Theory enjoyed popularity among education schools, ethnic studies departments, as well as law schools. Then, in the 2010s, a new wave of radicalism, drawing upon CRT and the call for reparations, burst forth and became the dominant strain of anti-racist politics on the left and in the Democratic Party.

Black Lives Matter

The new wave of radicalism was sparked by George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012, the police killing of Eric Garner in Staten Island and Michael Brown, Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri in the summer of 2014 and climaxed with the murder of George Floyd in 2020 in Minneapolis. These were, of course, not the first instances of police brutality against blacks, but they occurred in the era of smart phones and social media. Floyd’s murder was captured on a smartphone and the video became viral. The group at the forefront of the protests was Black Lives Matter, which had originated as three women’s twitter hashtag in the wake of Zimmerman’s acquittal.

In 2014, BLM’s founders created the Movement for Black Lives. Its platform championed defunding of the police and “an end of public jails, detention centers, youth facilities and prisons as we know them.” It called for racial reparations. It demanded the federal government create a new welfare system specifically for black people. It would include a “guaranteed minimum livable income” for black people, “full and free access to higher and technical education, and “corporate and government reparations” that would provide healthcare and access to “food sources, housing and land.”

The group won support from liberal foundations. In July 2016, the Ford Foundation joined forces with the Borealis Philanthropy to launch a six-year fundraising project aimed at providing $100 million for the Movement for Black Lives. “We’ll provide long-term support for the Movement for Black Lives so that these visionary leaders and organizations can continue to cultivate and maintain a movement of young black women and men who are pushing through established boundaries as they seek to realize the promise of equality and justice for all,” Ford’s statement said.

The New Intellectuals

While Black Lives Matter groups were protesting police violence, a group of intellectuals were writing widely-read and highly acclaimed essays and books that refined and advanced the radical arguments that black power advocates and critical race theorists had made decades before. In 2014, Ta-Nahesi Coates, the son of a former Black Panther Party member from Baltimore, published “The Case for Reparations” in The Atlantic. Coates blamed whatever ills had befallen blacks on a “trenchant racism” that was a legacy of black enslavement. Columbia University Professor John McWhorter dismissed Coates’ argument as “victimology,” but a panel of judges from NYU’s School of Journalism later named “The Case for Reparations” the top work of journalism for the decade.

Ibram X. Kendi published the bestselling How to be an Antiracist in 2020 just as the protests against Floyd’s murder were heating up. Kendi argued that racism pervades all institutions in America and that to eliminate it, policies had to discriminate on behalf of blacks against whites. If blacks were underrepresented in colleges on the basis of tests, the tests had to be eliminated. If they were overrepresented among convicted felons, then police and judicial practices had to be altered. “A racist policy,” he wrote, “is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups.” “Equity” became the accepted buzzword to describe equality of outcome rather than opportunity.

The most important institutional affirmation of this new racial radicalism came from The New York Times Magazine. In August 2019, it devoted an entire issue to “The 1619 Project,” conceived, edited and introduced by a staff reporter, Nikole Hannah-Jones. In an introduction, Hannah-Jones claimed that 1619, when the first slave ship arrived, and not 1776, when the colonies declared their independence, was “our true founding” and that “one of the primary reasons colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was to protect the institution of slavery.” Hannah-Jones claimed that “anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.” Some American historians cried foul, but Hannah-Jones was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her essay.


Do Voters Care About Veeps?

Decided to explore a hardy perennial topic in a period of intense speculation about various candidates for Vice President, and wrote it up at New York:

In political circles, it’s high season for veep speculation. Democrats worried about Joe Biden’s age and their ticket’s electability fret about whether incumbent Vice-President Kamala Harris is the best bet to serve as the presidential understudy in 2024 as Republicans yell and point at her as an alleged radical leftist. Republicans worried about their party’s post-Trump direction fret about the erratic former president’s choice of a running mate to replace his 2016–20 toady, the since-discarded Mike Pence. Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is doing his own veep reveal on March 26; it has drawn interest partly because it could indicate which major party’s success might be spoiled by his bid and partly because ultracelebrity NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers could be in the mix. And the nonpartisan organization No Labels will soon be unveiling its own potential 2024 plans, which are likely to deploy a Democratic vice-presidential candidate to balance a Republican at the top of its “unity ticket.”

Do veep candidates really matter in determining the outcome of presidential elections?

To be clear, this is a very different question than the real-world relevance of vice-presidents. Fifteen veeps have gone on to become president, eight of them suddenly on the death of the boss and another when the boss was forced to resign. It is difficult to exaggerate the significance of Abraham Lincoln choosing Andrew Johnson as his 1864 running mate (making congressional Reconstruction necessary), or FDR replacing Henry Wallace with Harry Truman in 1944 (removing a Soviet sympathizer from the line of succession). The political insiders who often influence the choice of vice-presidential candidates understand why they matter, which is why they definitely care about them even in the absence of evidence that voters care at all.

And to be honest, there has never been much evidence that most voters care at all. Political scientists are generally in agreement that the identity of the second person on a presidential ticket matters mostly on the margins. Even St. Louis University’s Joel Goldstein, who is to vice-presidents what Andy Cohen is to Real Housewives, concedes that their identity is usually an electoral cipher. He has said, “Vice-presidential choice is unlikely to make much of a difference where potential swing voters have a strong preference for one presidential candidate over the other.” He points to very close elections with lots of swing voters, notably in 1960 when LBJ might have helped swing Texas into JFK’s column, as exceptions to a general rule.

On the other hand, there’s quite a bit of recent evidence that the selection of a particular running mate may play a role in preventing defections of voters from a presidential candidate with a shaky electoral base.

Most obviously, in 2016 Donald Trump was facing a potential revolt among movement-conservative and Evangelical voters, which he addressed by choosing the movement-conservative Evangelical politician Pence (who had the added reassuring value of a long résumé of elected offices). We can’t prove Trump would have lost without Pence onboard, but his victory was narrow enough that a Pence-less loss is a plausible counterfactual scenario. Similarly, in 2020 Biden’s choice of Harris made sense after a grueling nomination contest in which old white guy Biden prevailed over multiple women and people of color (not to mention two Jews), reversing the diversity trend established by his predecessors Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Biden himself, of course, was chosen by the first Black presidential nominee, who was also a freshman senator, in no small part because he was an old white guy with a Washington résumé as long as his arm.

What Trump must decide is whether he needs to worry about potential Republican defections in choosing a running mate or is instead more motivated by a determination to avoid the “disloyalty” Pence eventually displayed on January 6, 2021. And Democrats contemplating either a replacement of their entire 2024 ticket as a likely loser or just the selection of a new VP less likely to cause worries about a possible presidential disability or death need to assess the potential backlash to making Harris the first sitting vice-president in three-quarters of a century (since Henry Wallace) to get the heave-ho. (Yes, technically speaking, Gerald Ford booted Nelson Rockefeller from the 1976 ticket to placate conservatives, but it was theoretically a voluntary retirement and neither of these men was elected by voters in the first place.)

For non-major-party campaigns, like RFK Jr.’s or the putative No Labels effort, the veep selection could be more significant simply by giving a clearer definition to a fuzzy presidential candidacy.

In general, though, there’s a reason presidential candidates tend to play it safe with their running-mate selections: It usually doesn’t matter much unless it draws more attention than people aiming to become the “leader of the free world” typically want. John McCain’s “high risk, high reward” choice of an obscure first-term Alaska governor named Sarah Palin in 2008 is an eternal warning to would-be presidents that you don’t want a veep voters notice because she’s being regularly lampooned on Saturday Night Live.


Brownstein: Biden vs. Inflation

From Ronald Brownstein’s “How Biden hopes to recapture voters scarred by inflation” at CNN Politics:

Biden is portraying himself as committed to standing up for average Americans against powerful interests and the wealthy. But polls consistently show that significantly more Americans, including substantial numbers of Black and Hispanic voters, believe they personally benefited from Trump’s policies than Biden’s.

That sentiment risks blunting Biden’s populist arguments: even if he can convince voters that Trump’s policies helped the rich and corporations the most, they may not mind as much if they believe that they also benefited more under Trump than they have under Biden.

In a way, it’s Biden against a form of the “rising tide lifts all boats” tax strategy Republicans have deployed effectively for decades. “It’s Ok if the wealthy get huge tax breaks, as long as I get a modest one too.” Brownstein notes further,

Biden has plenty of ammunition to mount a traditional populist case against Trump. The former president’s principal legislative accomplishment was a massive tax cut that provided most of its direct benefits to corporations and the most affluent. Trump came within one Senate vote of repealing the Affordable Care Act, which has significantly increased health care coverage for lower-income working Americans. As a candidate in 2016, Trump pledged to seek legislative authority for Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices from pharmaceutical companies, but in office, under intense pressure from the industry, he abandoned that promise. Across a wide range of regulatory issues, from the environment to consumer protection, his administration consistently sided with business interests.

Biden has set a very different course. He won the legislative authority for Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors, and his administration is now negotiating lower prices for the first 10 drugs under that program; he also won authority to limit seniors’ monthly costs for insulin to $35 per month and to cap seniors’ annual out-of-pocket expenses for all drugs at $2,000. He passed significantly larger subsidies to help the uninsured buy coverage under the ACA, which has pushed enrollment to record highs. His administration has enforced the antitrust laws more aggressively than any in recent times and pursued a multi-pronged regulatory offensive against what he calls junk fees. The Covid-19 stimulus bill passed in 2021 included an expansion of the tax credit for families with children big enough to cut childhood poverty roughly in half, though the credit expired when West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin insisted on its removal in the Inflation Reduction Act. Biden did pass in that law a new 15% minimum tax for corporations.

Brownstrein adds:

The new proposals Biden highlighted in his State of the Union last week and new federal budget released Monday also lean heavily into economic populism.Overall, issues that economic populists have worked for years to put into the political mainstream got validated by President Biden,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Biden is proposing to raise the corporate tax rate, impose a 25% minimum tax on billionaires and end the Trump tax cuts for families earning over $400,000 per year (while retaining them for those making less). He wants to restore the expanded children’s tax credit, make permanent the larger subsidies for buying health insurance, provide a $10,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, establish a nationwide paid family leave program, and subsidize families’ child care expenses, partly by establishing universal access to preschool. He also called for increasing five-fold annually the number of drugs subject to Medicare negotiations, and to extend the caps on insulin and out-of-pocket drug costs to all Americans, not just seniors.

Biden’s agenda, and the contrast it establishes with Trump’s policy priorities, gives Democrats plenty to work with in trying to portray themselves as champions of average families and Republicans as servants of the wealthy. “Our economic contrast is going to be that of Scranton, Pennsylvania, versus Park Avenue,” said Michael Tyler, the Biden campaign’s communications director. “We have the receipts because we are also running against a de facto incumbent. We saw what his economic policy looked like when he was in office and we have to clearly articulate that to people and remind people of what his priorities are.”

However, notes Brownstein,

But inflation, and its impact on the ability of working families to meet their bills, has greatly complicated Biden’s task in winning a conventional populist argument against Trump. Inflation has significantly moderated from its peak immediately after the Covid pandemic, but while prices are no longer increasing as fast, they remain about 18% higher than when Biden took office, and higher than that for such essentials as groceries, gas and rent. And while wages have been rising faster than prices since spring 2023, the cumulative increase in pay has not yet surpassed the cumulative increase in prices during Biden’s presidency, leaving many workers feeling squeezed. “What’s the disconnect between people’s experience and the [positive] economic movement that we’ve seen in the last four or five months?” asked Republican pollster Micah Roberts. “It’s three words: In-fla-tion. That’s it. It’s not a hard thing.”

Pollsters in both parties say it is common in focus groups to hear participants say that they felt they had more money in their pocket at the end of the week when Trump was president. “Right before Covid, people were telling us it was the best economy they had seen in their lifetime,” said Jim McLaughlin, a pollster for Trump. Now, he says, “They specifically blame Joe Biden for” their increased difficulty making ends meet. “Stand outside a grocery store,” McLaughlin added, “they’ll tell you how booming the economy is.”

Polls leave little doubt Biden today is not only losing the economic comparison to Trump, but facing substantial skepticism among constituencies that usually are the principal target for a populist Democratic economic message. In a CNBC poll last October, not only did White voters say they were better off financially under Trump than Biden by a margin of more than 4-to-1, but so did non-white voters by a margin of nearly 2-to-1, according to figures provided by Roberts, whose firm conducts the survey with a Democratic partner. In the latest national NBC News poll, conducted by the same Republican-Democratic partnership, voters who identified as low-income and working-class trusted Trump over Biden on the economy by a crushing margin of 61% to 25%.

Brownstein goes on to note that Biden’s poll numbers are even worse with Hispanic voters and cites anger about Biden’s immigration policy as feeding nostalgia for Trump’s pre-Covid years. But Biden may have found a powerful message point in populist economics:

“In a report released last week,” Brownstein notes, “the Winning Jobs Narrative Project, a consortium of liberal advocacy groups, concluded that Democrats’ best chance to overcome voters’ continuing concerns about meeting their bills is to hammer home the populist case Biden sketched out in the State of the Union. By framing the election as a choice between “middle-out” versus “top down” and “trickle down” economics, “we think the president is absolutely on to something central to the direction Democrats should take in this election – which is who gets prioritized and how,” said Bobby Clark, a senior adviser to the group.

After voters were exposed to Biden’s populist arguments, assessments of his economic record improved in the group’s polling, Clark said. But even after hearing that case, most voters in the group’s surveys still gave Biden negative marks for his economic performance, the study found….That finding may suggest the limits on how much Biden’s prospective agenda can offset voters’ discontent over their actual economic experience during his presidency. To win in November, most strategists in both parties agree, Biden doesn’t need to completely erase Trump’s advantage on the economy because so many voters resist the former president on other grounds, such as democracy, abortion rights, and the general chaos and conflict that he ignites.”

Brownstein concludes that “Biden needs positive trends on the economy to persist – in particular, for wages to continue rising faster than prices, as they have since last spring….But he also needs to persuade enough voters that his agenda will do more than Trump’s to help them make ends meet in the future – even if they mostly believe the opposite has so far been true of Biden’s time in the White House.”


Political Strategy Notes

Following his impressive SOTU, President Biden has hit the campaign trail with an equally-popular message and a sharply-focused attack against his predecessor. As Alex Gangitano reports in “Biden rallies crowd by citing Trump’s remarks on Social Security cuts” at The Hill,  “President Biden rallied a crowd in Milwaukee Wednesday by citing former President Trump’s recent remarks suggesting he’s open to cuts to Medicare and Social Security….“Just this week, Donald Trump said cuts to Social Security and Medicare are on the table. When asked if he’d change his position, he said quote, there’s a lot we can do in terms of cutting, tremendous amount of things we can do. End of quote,” Biden said….“I want to assure you, I will never allow it to happen,” he added during a visit to the critical swing state of Wisconsin….Biden vowed Wednesday to protect the entitlement programs….“I won’t cut Social Security; I will not cut Medicare. Instead of cutting Social Security and Medicare to give tax breaks to the super wealthy, I’m going to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare to make the wealthy begin to pay their fair share,” Biden said….The Biden campaign promptly dropped an ad with Trump’s comments and then launched an effort in battleground states to hold more than a dozen press conferences before Friday, all focused on entitlement programs, the campaign first told The Hill….“Many of my friends on the other side of the aisle want to put Social Security on the chopping block,” Biden said in the address. “If anyone here tries to cut Social Security or Medicare or raise the retirement age, I will stop you.”

In “New Study: Where Are All the Left Populists?” the editors of Jacobin write: “The political left is struggling with working-class voters around the world. In the United States, the Democratic Party has lost more of its support in election after election since 2012. Is there anything that can be done to stop the bleeding or even reverse the trend?….In 2023, with Jacobin and YouGov, the Center for Working-Class Politics (CWCP) published Trump’s Kryptonite, a studythat sought to provide some answers to this basic question. We designed a unique survey experiment that asked participants to choose between hypothetical pairs of candidates. We found that candidates who deployed populist messaging, who advocated bold progressive economic policies, and who came from working-class backgrounds were more likely to win support among working-class voters….With the help of a team of research assistants, we built a novel, comprehensive dataset on the 966 candidates who ran in Democratic primaries and general elections for the House and Senate in 2022. Using text from candidates’ campaign websites, we documented their campaign rhetoric, policy platforms, demographic characteristics, and class backgrounds. We were thus able to identify, among other things, candidates who our past research suggests would be effective at winning working-class voters: those who employed populist rhetoric, proposed progressive economic policies, or held working-class occupations prior to their political careers….More than anything else, our findings reveal just how few Democratic candidates actually meet these criteria.”

The Jacobin editors continue, “Despite the appeal of forceful, anti–economic elite messaging to the demographics that Democrats desperately need to reach — such as working-class and rural voters — few Democrats actually employ this kind of messaging. Even fewer run on bold progressive economic policies such as raising the minimum wage or a jobs guarantee. Finally, working-class candidates were extremely rare — 2 percent to 6 percent of candidates, depending on the measure — and those who did run were typically marginal primary candidates or ran Hail Mary general election campaigns in deep-red districts….How did progressives, populists, and working-class candidates fare when they did run? In short, quite well. Candidates who used economic populist rhetoric won higher vote shares in general elections, especially in highly working-class districts, rural and small-town districts, and districts where the majority were white and not college educated. We also find that Democratic candidates running on economically progressive policies were more successful overall than other candidates, especially in majority-white, non-college-educated districts….Democrats face little downside from running more working-class candidates in general elections, and a large potential upside…..Economic populists performed especially well in districts with majority-white, non-college-educated populations and in highly working-class districts. Their average vote shares were, respectively, 12.3 and 6.4 percentage points higher than other candidates’ in such districts. Economic populists also performed better than other candidates in rural and small-town districts, where their average vote share was 4.7 percentage points higher….You can read the full report here.”

From “Notes on the State of Politics: March 13, 2024: Assessing the new House landscape as redistricting is (probably) over; looking ahead to next week’s down-ballot Ohio and Illinois primaries” by Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Alabama: Somewhat surprisingly, the U.S. Supreme Court in last year’s Allen v. Milligan decision upheld Section Two of the Voting Rights Act, which can prompt the creation of majority-minority districts in places that can accommodate them based on certain criteria. A court-imposed map created a second Black majority seat in the state, which should cut the state’s 6-1 Republican delegation to 5-2….Louisiana: Allen v. Milligan effectively opened the door to a new map in Louisiana, too, and eventually the state legislature created what amounts to a heavily Democratic district, which should have the effect of reducing the GOP edge from 5-1 to 4-2….Georgia: Another case in the style of Alabama and Louisiana was decided in Georgia, but the Republican-controlled state legislature simply rearranged districts in the Atlanta area to create an additional Black majority district that won’t otherwise upset the partisan makeup of the state’s congressional delegation, currently 9-5 Republican….North Carolina: The state’s then-Democratic state Supreme Court imposed a map that resulted in a 7-7 tie in the delegation in 2022. Republicans took control of the state Supreme Court, which then re-opened the door to the GOP-controlled legislature re-imposing a partisan gerrymander. Republicans converted two Safe Democratic seats and one very competitive seat won by a Democrat in 2022 into three Safe Republican seats, and they also changed a northeast North Carolina district held by first-term Rep. Don Davis (D, NC-1) from one that Joe Biden carried by 7.3 points to just Biden +1.7….New York: After the state’s highest court imposed a map to replace an aggressive Democratic gerrymander in 2022, state Democrats got a more liberal version of the same court to re-open the state’s convoluted redistricting process. The end result was a mildly better map for Democrats, with potentially the most impactful change coming in Rep. Brandon Williams’s (R) Syracuse-based NY-22, which went from Biden +7.5 to Biden +11.4….So, who won? Probably Republicans, but only modestly….This is because the pro-Democratic changes in Alabama, Louisiana, and New York do not, together, offset the pro-Republican changes in North Carolina.”


Longest General Election Ever Begins

One phase of the 2024 presidential campaign came to an end while another very long one began, as I noted at New York:

Without a great deal of fanfare, Joe Biden and Donald Trump each clinched their parties’ presidential nominations in the March 12 caucuses and primaries. This sets up what is officially the longest general-election campaign ever, a 238-day marathon (2000 and 2004 were a day shorter) that will seem even longer because it’s a rematch between two universally known presidents.

Biden and Trump became “putative” nominees a week earlier when their last intraparty opponents, Dean Phillips and Nikki Haley, respectively, dropped out of contention. At this point, they are “presumptive” nominees pending the formal designation made at their national conventions (July 15-18 in Milwaukee for Republicans, August 19-22 in Chicago for Democrats). Biden has won 2,107 of the 2,130 Democratic delegates allocated so far (1,968 were needed for the nomination) with “uncommitted” running second with 20. Trump has won 1,241 of the 1,347 Republican delegates allocated to date (1,215 were needed for the nomination) with Nikki Haley second at 94.

The final day of the two nominating contests was a bit short on drama. Hawaii’s Democrats gave seven of 22 delegates to “uncommitted” after 29 percent of caucusgoers opted to make that gesture aimed at pushing Biden to support a permanent cease-fire in Gaza. But in Washington state, where a stronger protest vote had been expected, only 7.5 percent of primary voters went “uncommitted” (with 79 percent of ballots counted) and Biden was winning all 92 delegates at stake.

Former candidate Haley managed double-digit showings in two March 12 primaries in Georgia (13 percent) and Washington (22 percent), though keep in mind that both states allowed Democrats and independents to participate in the GOP contest and many of the votes were cast early, before Haley suspended her candidacy.

Because there have been rumblings in both parties about a hypothetical convention revolt against the presumptive nominee (Biden owing to electability jitters and Trump due to his legal problems), it’s worth noting that Trump’s delegates are “bound” to him by party rules (and can be liberated only by a candidate withdrawal or a two-thirds convention vote), while Biden’s are his strictly as a matter of moral obligation. Both conventions will, however, be totally wired by the campaigns of the two nominees. By the time these summer coronations roll around, Biden and Trump will be two of the most thoroughly known quantities in American political history.

 


Where Dems Can Win Votes with Improved Voter Registration

Some stats from “How voter registration rules discourage some Americans from voting: An explainer and research roundup” by Denise-Marie Ordway at Journalist’s Resource:

In 2022, 69% of U.S. citizens aged 18 years and older were registered to vote, according to a report the U.S. Census Bureau released last year. Registration rates ranged from 61% in North Carolina to 83% in Oregon.

The four most populous states — California, Texas, Florida and New York — had some of the lowest registration rates: 67%, 65%, 63% and 66%, respectively.

White U.S. citizens are much more likely to be registered to vote than citizens of other racial and ethnic groups. Nationally, about 71% of white adult citizens, 64% of Black adult citizens, 60% of Asian adult citizens and 58% of Hispanic adult citizens were registered to vote in November 2022, according to Census Bureau estimates.

Older adult citizens are more likely to be registered than younger ones. While 77% of citizens aged 65 years and older were registered to vote in November 2022, 63% of citizens aged 25 to 34 and 49% of citizens aged 18 to 24 were.

Voter registration rates differed by job status in November 2022. For example, 60% of unemployed adult citizens reporting being registered compared with 72% of self-employed adult citizens and 79% with government jobs.

Adult citizens with lower incomes are less likely to register to vote than those with higher incomes. For example, 83% of adult citizens with family incomes of $150,000 per year or higher were registered to vote in November 2022. Meanwhile, 58% of adult citizens with family incomes of $15,000 to $19,999 were.

The voter registration rate among Hispanic adult citizens in November 2022 was lowest in Mississippi, at 23%, and highest in Minnesota, at 75%.

In Iowa, 76% of white adult citizens were registered to vote, compared with 41% of Black adult citizens, 45% of Asian adult citizens and 58% of Hispanic adult citizens.

In 10 states, fewer than half of Black adult citizens were registered to vote in November 2022. In 15 states, fewer than half of Asian adult citizens were.

In Florida, younger voters and racial and ethnic minorities were more likely to have their voter registration applications put “on hold,” meaning they needed to correct errors and provide additional information before their applications can be processed.

Although there are no shockers in any of these statistics, they do suggest that Democrats can improve their prospects with specific demographic groups in places with a little extra effort.


Teixeira: Nonwhite Working Class Bails Out on Democrats

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, politics editor of The Liberal Patriot newsletter and co-author with John B. Judis of the new Book “Where Have All the Democrats Gone?,” is cross-posted from The Liberal Patriot:

Cast your mind back to those heady days of 2012 when Barack Obama vanquished Mitt Romney and won a second term in the White House. In that election, Obama carried nonwhite working-class (noncollege) voters by a massive 67 points, while losing white college graduates by 7 points. That means Obama did 74 points betteramong the nonwhite working class than among white college graduates.

In the next two presidential elections, that differential steadily narrowed as Democrats did worse among nonwhite working-class voters even as they improved among white college graduates. In 2020, Biden carried the nonwhite working class by 48 points (19 points less than Obama did in 2012) while carrying white college graduates by 9 points (16 points better than Obama). That cut the Democrats’ positive differential between these two groups almost in half, down to 39 points.

Now it’s Biden running for a second term and, astonishingly, that positive differential may have entirely disappeared. According to the just-released New York Times/Siena poll, Biden is actually doing worse among the nonwhite working class, carrying them by a mere six points, than among white college graduates, where he enjoys a 15 point advantage over Trump. Amazing. There is perhaps no better illustration of the Democrats’ transformation into a Brahmin Left party, beloved by the educated but increasingly viewed with suspicion by the working classes of all races.

The Times data allow us to dig into the attitudinal differences that currently exist between white college graduates and the nonwhite working class and help explain these trends.

1. Biden’s job approval. Biden’s job approval among the nonwhite working class is a dreadful 34 percent. Among white college graduates it’s a comparatively healthy 47 percent. The nonwhite working class is actually closer to the white working class’ assessment of Biden (28 percent approval) than to white college graduates’ view of Biden.

2. Trump favorability. Trump has a 44 percent favorability rating among nonwhite working-class voters. That’s lower than the 55 percent rating among the white working class but still closer to that rating than Trump’s 29 percent favorability among white college graduates.

3. Personality and temperament to be an effective president. White and nonwhite working-class voters are very close on the assessment of Biden (42 percent vs. 46 percent say Biden has what it takes to be an effective president), way lower than the 63 percent thumbs up from white college grads. And on Trump’s capabilities, the two working-class sectors are almost identical (48 percent vs. 47 percent think Trump can do the job), way higher than the 29 percent among white college voters who agree.

4. Assessments of the economy. About three-fifths (59 percent) of the nonwhite working class characterizes current economic conditions as “poor.” That’s identical with views among the white working class and way more negative than among white college voters, only 38 percent of whom believe the economy is that bad.

In terms of whether the economy is better or worse than a year ago, a mere 15 percent of nonwhite working-class voters believe the economy has gotten better while 51 percent believe it has gotten worse. That’s close to white working-class voters, where 21 percent say better and 42 percent say worse. But for white college graduates views are much sunnier: 32 percent better and 29 percent worse.

Looking back further, the nonwhite working class deems the economy worse rather than better than four years ago by 67 percent to 12 percent, quite similar to the white working class at 74 percent worse/16 percent better. That compares to white college grads at 50 percent worse/30 percent better.

5. Personal assessments. Just 12 percent of the the nonwhite working class are willing to say that Biden’s policies have helped them personally. That’s actually slightly less than the 14 percent of the white working class who are willing to say the same thing. Both sectors of the working class trail white college voters, who are much higher (if hardly enthusiastic) at 28 percent on this measure.

An even starker contrast is on assessments of personal financial situation. Over half of nonwhite working-class voters describe their financial situation as only fair (33 percent) or poor (23 percent), as do white working-class voters (33 percent only fair/20 percent poor). But only a third of white college grads feel that way (27 percent only fair/just 7 percent poor).

6. Cost of living. Specifically asked to rate “prices for food and consumer goods” as an aspect of the current economy, 70 percent of the nonwhite working class assesses the situation as poor, as does 71 percent of the white working class, while white college graduates at 54 percent are significantly less negative. The same pattern is evident on gas prices. Fifty-five percent of both nonwhite and white working-class voters characterize the situation as poor, compared to only 35 percent of white college grads.

This convergence of views between the nonwhite and white working class, and their divergence from those of white college graduates, helps explain the trends we have been seeing. Clearly, the Biden years have been experienced by nonwhite working-class voters in a different and less pleasant way than they have been by white college graduates. As the data reviewed here suggest, a lot of this is about the economy. But there are other factors.

As I noted last week, as the Democrats have moved to the left on sociocultural issues, they are increasingly diverging from the comfort zone of the moderate-to-conservative supermajority of nonwhite working-class voters. Democratic positions in these areas are, however, congenial to white college graduates who have rewarded Democrats with increasing support. The accelerating “Brahminization” of the party is the result.

Can Democrats escape the negative effects of this Brahminization? It’s certainly possible though oddly their chances will be best in a relatively low turnout election, where their educated, engaged voters are more important and working-class voters less. And it is mathematically possible for Democrats to drive up their support among white college grads sufficiently to counterbalance whatever losses they might experience among working-class voters. Mathematically possible but not easy.

To get a sense of how heavy the lift could be here, consider a scenario where both the white and nonwhite working class move away from the Democrats by 10 margin points—slightly more than indicated by the Times data among white working-class voters but far less than indicated among nonwhite working-class voters. This can be simulated using States of Change data that allow both nonwhite and white working-class preferences by detailed subgroup (race, gender, age) nationally and within states to be estimated for 2020 and then moved to the right by the specified amount. Those adjusted estimates (with all other preferences held constant at their 2020 levels) are then applied to the projected structure of the eligible electorate in 2024 and subsequent elections.

In 2024, this shift toward Republicans among both nonwhite and white working-class voters produces a solid 312-226 GOP electoral vote majority. The states that move into the GOP column are Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Nevada by 3 points, Arizona and Georgia by 4 points and Wisconsin by 5 points—all six of the key swing states for the coming election.

Republicans also carry the popular vote, albeit by just a point. Thereafter, the GOP starts to lose the popular vote but continues to win the electoral vote through 2040. Again, the Democrats can conceivably counter these—or any other losses—by a sufficiently improved performance among other parts of the electorate. But it does give you a sense of the working class-sized hole the Democrats may be digging for themselves.

It might be worthwhile for Democrats to start seriously thinking about how they can de-Brahminize their party. The rewards could be great—and the penalties for not doing so even greater.