Thursday, September 16, 2021

Midterm Electorate Composition in 2022: Who Will It Help?

This is a solid data analytic article by Lakshya Jain on Sabato's Crystal Ball. Jain uses Catalist data to simulate the partisan lean of recent midterm and presidential electorates if they had voted by demographic group as they did in 2020. This indicates some possible shifts in the traditional relative Republican lean of midterm electorates due to the shifting loyalties of the white college graduate demographic. Jain's key tables are below.
His overall conclusions:
— "Midterm electorates are typically whiter and more educated than presidential electorates.
— At one time, this sort of change from the presidential to the midterm electorate might have made midterm electorates worse for Democrats. But given changes in the electorate, this midterm turnout pattern may actually aid Democrats, or at least not hurt them as much as it once did.
— Minority turnout has fluctuated and is a wild card that plays a big role in determining baseline partisan leans and advantages — presidential-level turnout means Democrats enjoy the advantage, whereas dips favor Republicans.
— The outcome in key swing states whiter than the national average, such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire, may be influenced heavily by educational turnout differential. In states with large nonwhite cores, such as North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada, minority turnout will play a more critical role."

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Sure, California Was a Good Result But Democrats Are Hardly Out of the Woods Yet

I suppose most people more or less realize this but it's worth checking out the results from the latest Quinnipiac poll to get absolutely clear on the situation. A Democratic governor beating a recall in a deep blue state with shambolic opponents just doesn't change much.
Biden approval ratings in this poll are dismal: 42 percent overall and also on the economy and climate change. Just 34 percent on foreign policy and 40 percent on being Commander in Chief. Needless to say, all these ratings are net negative.
But perhaps most concerning, Biden is even underwater by a point on handling the coronavirus, 48 percent approval, 49 percent disapproval. That's done from a 53 percent approval, +13 points net rating in August.
On his overall approval rating, it's worth noting that Biden is net negative by 37 points among white noncollege adults (28 percent approval/65 percent disapproval). And shockingly he is even underwater among Hispanics (38 percent approval/47 percent disapproval).
This poll is a particularly bad one for Biden but it is not inconsistent with other recent results. And views on Biden and his administration are a lot more relevant to the Democrats' fate in 2022 than Gavin Newsom's ability to survive a recall.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Norway Way

We have some heartening results from Norway. The social democratic Labour Party-led opposition has handily defeated the incumbent center-right coalition and will take power (link to detailed results below). Are there lessons there for the Democratic party and other parties of the Western left? John Halpin thinks so and outlines them at The Liberal Patriot:
(1) Universal social welfare policies grounded in the importance of work garner broad support.
(2) Pragmatic energy policies that protect people while moving to cleaner energy sources are more realistic to voters.
(3) An “everyone participates” model of social and cultural policy works better than ideological division.
Social welfare universalism, climate realism and cultural pluralism--sounds good to me!
"In the great Netflix series Occupied, fictional Norwegian Prime Minister Jesper Berg shuts off all the country’s oil production sparking the European Union to allow Russia to invade Norway to keep the oil flowing. Exciting if wildly implausible hijinks ensue over the course of the show making for a nice diversion for those who like geopolitical intrigue and cool shots of Norway.
In reality, the soon-to-be new Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre, just led the Norwegian Labour Party to a decisive victory in national elections by running on a far less radical but important agenda of national social investments and a pragmatic approach to climate....
As Democrats debate the contours of their massive reconciliation package, it’s important to recognize that the expansion and defense of social welfare policies works best when designed universally rather than in a targeted manner.
“The welfare state must embrace everyone and ensure good schools, a world-class health service and generous care for our elderly, no matter who you are and where you live,” Labour said in its party program ahead of the election.
For the current party manifesto, Labour stressed a through line based on the importance and dignity of work...
Labour’s win is being overstated as a victory for a “pro-oil” stance given the party’s call for continued fossil fuel exploration past 2050. However, the actual policy approach of Labour is more nuanced stressing the need to use ongoing fossil fuel resources to drive the next generation of engineering and production of cleaner energy sources.
“I believe that calling time on our oil and gas industry is the wrong industrial policy and the wrong climate policy,” Støre said after voting.
"The demand for oil is on a downward path. We don’t need to decree it, but instead [use the revenues] to build bridges to future activities,” Labour’s energy spokesman, Espen Barth Eide, told Agence-France Presse.
Democrats would be wise to follow suit here in reconciliation by talking about pragmatic solutions, such as clean energy tax credits and new power grid investments, that move us closer to net zero emissions without radically disrupting existing fossil fuel jobs....
One of the more compelling aspects of the Labour platform is the commitment to genuine solidarity over division.
We live in an age where there are forces that pit groups against each other. Us against them, men against women, town against countryside. To stand outside is the beginning of marginalisation and exclusion. This is where an individual may start experiencing either little or no sense of communal responsibility.
Historically, the labour movement has striven to bring people together. This initiative is needed again. We will create a Norway in which people can be different but equal. We will create a Norway in which everyone contributes, because everyone is needed. Everyone participates.
The old Third Way chestnut of “opportunity, responsibility, community” still makes sense to many voters even if it’s due for an update. Everyone gets a fair chance. Everyone does their part. And everyone helps to secure a good local living environment for all citizens.
Although American politics seems hopelessly divided, Biden and Democrats can and should resist this division and continue pressing for the wellbeing of all."
Real the whole piece at The Liberal Patriot. And subscribe--it's free!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Conservatism Is Declining! Be Careful What You Wish For.

Henry Olsen has an interesting tour d'horizon of recent and upcoming elections around the world in his new Post column. His conclusion: conservatism is in big trouble but the forces gaining from that trouble may not make you happy.
"Norway’s election on Monday begins a two-month collection of votes around the globe that will tell us a lot about public opinion a year-and-a-half into the pandemic. Though each country is different, the patterns are already clear: The traditional right is down, while the far left and populism are on the rise.
Conservatism’s decline is in evidence almost everywhere. Norway’s center-right coalition government received only 40 percent support in the final polls, down almost nine points from its showing in 2017. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union has been in free fall as Germans view her proposed replacement, Armin Laschet, as the least preferred of the major party leaders. The CDU and its allied Christian Social Union in Bavaria is receiving only 21 percent in current polling, a mark that would easily be its lowest ever if repeated on election day.
Traditional conservative parties in Iceland and Bulgaria are down below a quarter of the vote in recent polls. Meanwhile, three center-right parties had to band together in the Czech Republic to form the SPOLU (“Together”) alliance just to ensure that two of them didn’t fall below the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats. Eleven years ago, those parties received more than 41 percent of the vote; today, the alliance struggles to get more than 20 percent."

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Listen Up, Liberal College Graduate Hegemony-Deniers!

Don't believe me about this? Well, check out Nate Cohn's piece in the Times today where he goes over some of the same ground I have covered:
"As they’ve grown in numbers, college graduates have instilled increasingly liberal cultural norms while gaining the power to nudge the Democratic Party to the left. Partly as a result, large portions of the party’s traditional working-class base have defected to the Republicans....
Yet even as college graduates have surged in numbers and grown increasingly liberal, Democrats are no stronger than they were 10, 30 or even 50 years ago. Instead, rising Democratic strength among college graduates and voters of color has been counteracted by a nearly equal and opposite reaction among white voters without a degree....
About 27 percent of Mr. Biden’s supporters in 2020 were white voters without a college degree, according to Pew Research, down from the nearly 60 percent of Bill Clinton’s supporters who were whites without a degree just 28 years earlier. The changing demographic makeup of the Democrats has become a self-fulfilling dynamic, in which the growing power of liberal college graduates helps alienate working-class voters, leaving college graduates as an even larger share of the party....
As college graduates increased their share of the electorate, they gradually began to force the Democrats to accommodate their interests and values. They punched above their electoral weight, since they make up a disproportionate number of the journalists, politicians, activists and poll respondents who most directly influence the political process....
The reasons for white working-class alienation with the Democrats have shifted from decade to decade. At times, nearly every major issue area — race, religion, war, environmentalism, guns, trade, immigration, sexuality, crime, social welfare programs — has been a source of Democratic woes.
What the Democratic Party’s positions on these very different issues have had in common is that they reflected the views of college-educated liberals, even when in conflict with the apparent interests of working-class voters — and that they alienated some number of white voters without a degree. Environmentalists demanded regulations on the coal industry; coal miners bolted from the Democrats. Suburban voters supported an assault gun ban; gun owners shifted to the Republicans. Business interests supported free trade agreements; old manufacturing towns broke for Mr. Trump."
And this point is absolutely crucial: working class defection--it's not just for white voters anymore!
"A similar process may be beginning to unfold among Hispanic voters. The 2020 election was probably the first presidential contest in which the Democratic candidate fared better among voters of color who graduated from college than among those without a degree. Mr. Trump made large gains among voters of color without degrees, especially Latino ones. The causes of his surge are still being debated, but one leading theory is that he was aided by a backlash against the ideas and language of the college-educated left, including activist calls to “defund the police.”
For some Republicans, Mr. Trump’s gains have raised the possibility that it may be easier to appeal to working-class voters of color.
“It doesn’t seem quite as big of a bridge to cross as saying, ‘Let’s go back and win white suburbanites,’” said Patrick Ruffini, a Republican pollster who is writing a book on how the party might build a multiracial coalition."
Unfortunately, a rather large part of today's left seems completely unconcerned with this dynamic and in denial about its seriousness. The working class--who needs 'em? That attitude and the practices that flow from it will in all likelihood continue to put a hard ceiling on Democratic support and the ability to pass and implement progressive legislation.

Let's Make a Deal!

Here are some interesting new data from the University of Maryland's Program for Public Consultation gauging the popularity of 28 different aspects on the proposed reconciliation budget. All are at least somewhat popular but some are a lot more popular than others. Not all will make it into the final bill of course. Time to make a deal based on some combination of popularity and importance. And that will involve some tough choices. From Politico Playbook:
"They started off with a jaw-dropping $6 trillion price tag, then lowered it to $3.5 trillion. Now, there’s reporting suggesting Sen. JOE MANCHIN wants the total for Democrats’ reconciliation plan to drop as low as $1 trillion or $1.5 trillion (though some people close to him say his comfort zone is probably closer to $2 trillion).
So what exactly will Democrats’ topline number be?
Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER and Speaker NANCY PELOSI are both proceeding as if $3.5 trillion is the magic number, at least for now. Then there’s Sen. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.), who says progressives have given enough ground already: “That $3.5 trillion is already the result of a major, major compromise,”
But talk to senior Democratic congressional aides and you get a more realpolitik answer — one that’s closer to Manchin than Sanders. Some predict the bill will end up at about $2 trillion, which is significantly less than even President JOE BIDEN wants.
If those aides are right — and there’s reason to think they might be, given how much leverage Manchin has — that means a whole host of items on the party’s wish list will have to be scaled back dramatically or dropped.
The posturing over the price tag is a reminder of how much work the party has to do as it seeks to craft their behemoth bill by the end of September. The process will kick off in earnest today as the House Ways and Means and Education and Labor committees begin marking up their proposals.
Already, there are tensions over the issues being voted on in committee today. For example, we’re told the $762 billion envisioned for education — which includes more than $450 billion for child care and universal pre-K, and hundreds of billions more for school infrastructure and free community college — won’t likely make it to the White House intact. (Our higher ed reporter Michael Stratford has more on Education and Labor Chair BOBBY SCOTT’s bill.) Likewise, a battle for limited resources is driving the fight over which health care proposals to include, pitting the House against the Senate and White House. (Read Heather Caygle and Alice Miranda Ollstein here for the latest.)
Of course, the dollar total will be dictated by how much Democrats can generate with tax hikes and other revenue raisers — a huge area of contention itself. Democrats could find themselves with between $1 trillion and $2 trillion in revenue depending on how much they scale back the Trump tax cuts. They’ll also net a large chunk of change from the prescription drug overhaul, though they’re sparring over details of that plan as well.
After that, the real fight will commence: How to spend the money . Pelosi acknowledged the coming battles over limited dollars: “Where would you cut? Child care? Family medical leave paid for? Universal pre-K? Home health care?”
As two senior Democratic sources put it to us recently, the more Manchin talks, the better. Right now, most negotiations are taking place between House and Senate leadership and the White House. But the real veto power lies with Manchin and Sen. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-Ariz.). So the more they communicate about what they will or won’t accept, the better, per these aides: It will force Democrats to come to grips with reality of having too few dollars to do what they want — and start having the tough conversations they’ve only begun to broach."
Trying to think this through in a productive manner would be more useful than incessant denunciations of Joe Manchin, over whom the left has zero leverage. $3.5 trillion is a pipe dream. Time to get real.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Independents Declaring Independence from Biden

Biden came into office with lot of a good will from independents. Alas, a lot of that is dissipating under the press of events. At The Liberal Patriot, John Halpin explains the problems and offers some ideas for correctives:
"One year from now the traditional post-Labor Day election sprint for control of Congress will be in full swing. Luckily for President Biden and congressional Democrats, the election is not happening this November. Given the steady decline in the President’s overall job approval this summer – down 10 points from a high of 55.7 percent in early April to 45.7 percent in early September according to the RealClearPolitics polling average – the Democrats would surely lose control of one or both legislative houses.
The most worrisome aspect of Biden’s dropping popularity is the serious decline among Independent voters – those voters who turned against Donald Trump and drove Biden’s narrow victory in a handful of key battleground states in 2020. Morning Consult/Politico polling from early August, pre-Afghanistan, shows net approval of Biden among Independents (percentage approve minus disapprove) dropping from +25 at the start of his term to -5 by this summer....
[Independent] voters come in different political hues, but they tend to be economically populist, culturally moderate to conservative, and deeply concerned about security and protection on the home front.
Not surprisingly then, as seen in the August Morning Consult/Politico research, Independent voters seem increasingly skeptical of Biden’s handling of cultural issues like immigration and guns, economic issues like jobs and energy policy, and national security. They tend to give him more credit on the coronavirus pandemic, although the Delta surge is now causing complications on this issue as well....
The sum total of this research is that Biden and Democrats now face massive headwinds with these all-important voters ahead of midterms that will be decided in districts and states that either voted Trump or narrowly voted Biden. Democrats therefore need to face up to this stark reality and start taking steps to shore up their standing with Independent voters over the next few months.
Step One. Pass and defend the infrastructure bill and a “pro-worker, pro-family, pro-America” budget. ...
Step two. Make the withdrawal from Afghanistan a positive turn for America and not a depressing defeat....
Step three. More “No malarkey”, less culture war fillers....
[I]f Biden and Democrats want a fighting chance ahead of the midterms next year, they need to recapture the center of American politics and put forth a pragmatic and strong vision for national renewal that fits the perspective of Independent voters and middle-class Americans who ultimately will determine its outcome."
Read the whole thing at The Liberal Patriot!
Why is Biden losing support from Independents?
Why is Biden losing support from Independents?
Lingering Covid problems, economic fears, cultural divides, and Afghanistan withdrawal sour Independents on the new president