The two charts below are worth the price of admission in this detailed article by Geoffrey Skelley and Anna Wiederkehr on 538. But please look at the rest of the article for the more complicated story in the states.
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Just-released Gallup polling shows that, as previous polling and common sense suggests, that the real gripe black citizens have with the police is the quality of their interactions with police, not the fact that police are around and in their community. In fact, 81 percent of black citizens want the police to spend with the same amount or more time in their community.
As the Gallup article on these data concludes:
"It's not so much the volume of interactions Black Americans have with the police that troubles them or differentiates them from other racial groups, but rather the quality of those interactions.
Most Black Americans want the police to spend at least as much time in their area as they currently do, indicating that they value the need for the service that police provide. However, that exposure comes with more trepidation for Black than White or Hispanic Americans about what they might experience in a police encounter. And those harboring the least confidence that they will be treated well, or who have had negative encounters in the past, are much more likely to want the police presence curtailed.
These results correspond with Gallup's previously reported findings showing that only 22% of Black Americans favor abolishing police departments. However, the vast majority believe reform is needed, with upward of 90% favoring specific reforms aimed at improving police relations with the communities they serve and preventing or punishing abusive police behavior.
In these findings, policymakers may find a path forward that helps the police both protect communities and establish relations that make all citizens feel good about their presence."
The continued agitation to defund and/or abolish the police simply diverts political energy that could be spent more productively on broadly popular reforms and improvements in policing.
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Catch up on posts you may have missed or heck, read 'em again. You may heave a sight of relief that's someone out there is talking sense. Or steam may be coming out of your ears because there's apparently no limit to Teixeira's willingness to shill for Democratic elites and repeat right wing talking points. Either way it's exciting. So check it out and follow the link to subscribe to the newsletter if you haven't already.
Monday, August 3, 2020
The just-released CBS News poll has Biden up by 4. The 538 running average is 2 points. If I told you that in the CBS NC poll Biden was ahead of Trump by 11 points among white college graduates in the state but behind by 36 points among white noncollege voters, you might conclude that white college performance is the real key here.
But you'd be wrong. The white college figure compared to 2016 States of Change data is a 7 point pro-Democratic shift (+11 compared to +4). But the white noncollege shift is actually quite a bit larger as a shift toward the Democrats. That's because in 2016 Clinton lost these voters by a staggering 51 points. So the white noncollege pro-Democratic shift is 15 points (-35 vs. -51). And since the white noncollege group in NC is quite a bit larger--half again as large--as white college (the 2016 figures were 43 percent vs. 28 percent), the significance of the white noncollege shift looms even larger.
Lesson: even if the white noncollege figure for Biden in a given state looks terrible, it can still represent a hugely important and potentially game-changing shift.
Right now, the Economist forecasting model gives Biden a 91 percent probability of winning the electoral college and a 99 percent chance of winning the popular vote. High!
This has led to some questioning of the model from various quarters, including the redoubtable Nate Silver. Silver leveled his criticisms on Twitter but Andrew Gelman, the Columbia statistician who developed the model with G. Elliott Morris and Merlin Heidemanns, put his replies on his blog. As Gelman says:
"[I]n general I don’t find twitter to be a good place for careful discussion...I like that Nate is publicly saying what he doesn’t like about our method. I’d prefer even more if he’d do this on a blog with a good comments section, as I feel that it’s hard to have a sustained discussion on twitter."
Boy, does he have that one right.
Anyway, I recommend reading Gelman's post. It's clear and well-written, avoiding unnecessary technical jargon. It'll help you understand the voodoo that forecasters do--both the strengths and weaknesses, ,which may be a bit different than you think. Note that Gelman and co. are revising the model a bit, though he doesn't expect the results to change all that much.
Gluttons for punishment can peruse the comments section to his post for more interesting observations and Gelman's typically lucid replies.
Sunday, August 2, 2020
Everybody saw the historically dreadful figures for second quarter GDP growth. Leaving aside everything else such a performance according to conventional political science would predict an enormous loss for the incumbent president. How enormous? Seth Masket at Mischiefs of Faction has the numbers:
"If I plug [-9.5 percent growth] into regression equations...assume the President will have a 40 percent Gallup approval rating on Labor Day, give him credit for being an incumbent and for the absence of a war, I get a predicted two-party vote share of 31 percent. If I use a similar regression equation that accounts for GDP growth between the 4th quarter of the previous year and the 2nd quarter of the election year, I get a predicted two-party vote share of 39 percent. Those models have R-squareds of .69 and .65, respectively.
I am highly skeptical of these forecasts. The better of these forecasts for Trump would be on par with the vote shares received by Barry Goldwater and George McGovern in 1968 and 1972, respectively. That's historic landslide territory, the sort of thing we haven't seen in a long time."
You can see Masket is skeptical of his own forecasts; so am I. But the point remains that this GDP result is really, really bad for Trump by the general logic of Presidential elections.
But wait....don't people still approve of his handling of the economy? Not like they used to. It is no longer a "get out of jail free" card for our Dear Leader. Harry Enten:
When you look at all the polls, you come to a very similar finding. Trump's net approval rating on the economy (approval minus disapproval) has dropped from +16 points in January to just +1 point in July.
His declining economic approval rating is no doubt partially because he has become less popular overall. His net approval rating overall has declined about 5 points since January. Still, that's only about a third of the decline in his economic approval rating.
It does seem that the economic downturn the country has suffered since February is impacting Trump's economic approval disproportionally.
Furthermore, a look at the data reveals that Trump is no longer the clear winner when it comes to who voters trust on the economy.
Biden actually does 2 points better than Trump when matched up on the economy in an average of the ABC News/Washington Post, Fox News and Quinnipiac polls. That's best described as "too close to call," but that itself is quite noteworthy.
Trump led on the economy in all three polls when the question was last asked by each pollster. He held as much as a double-digit advantage over Biden in the ABC News/Washington Post in March. Trump even had a 12-point lead on the economy as late as May in CNN polling."
Saturday, August 1, 2020
John Cassidy has a good article at The New Yorker site praising Biden's "big tent" strategy. He talks about three big challenges Biden is surmounting:
1. Uniting the Democratic Party after a chaotic primary season.
2. Fashioning a coherent response to the tumultuous events of 2020
3. Avoiding giving Trump an easy target
On #3, he breaks it down this way, with the help of some fellow named Teixeira:
"The third challenge that Biden faced was to avoid giving Trump an easy target. The pandemic has made the dodging part easier. Hunkered down in Wilmington, Biden largely has left the President to dig his own hole—which he has done, ably. But Biden has also reached out to Trump Country. The first of his Build Back Better speeches was delivered in Rust Belt Pennsylvania: it included calls to restore American manufacturing and “buy American.” As well as adopting some of the language of economic nationalism, Biden has rejected certain progressive proposals, such as defunding the police and enforcing a complete ban on fracking, that might alienate moderate whites in battleground states.
This is smart politics, Ruy Teixeira, a polling expert and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, told me. Despite the changing demographics of the United States, whites who don’t have a college degree still make up about forty-four per cent of the eligible electorate, according to Teixeira; in some places, such as parts of the Midwest, the figure is even higher. “You cannot cede massive sections of the electorate if you want to be successful politically,” Teixeira said.
In 2016, Trump carried the white non-college demographic by thirty-one percentage points at the national level, according to Teixeira’s analysis of exit polls and election returns. Biden has narrowed the gap to twelve points, Teixeira said, citing a recent survey. That is similar to the margin in 2008, when Barack Obama defeated John McCain and the Democrats increased their majorities in both houses of Congress. As it is often defined, the Obama coalition consisted of minority voters, college-educated white liberals, and young people. Teixeira pointed out that Obama’s ability to restrict McCain’s margin in the white non-college demographic was also important, and if Biden matched that feat in November, he said, it could be of enormous consequence. “This is not the only thing that is going wrong for Trump,” Teixeira said, “but it is the thing that could give the Democrats the big victory that they need to govern effectively.”
None of this means that Biden is a lock for the Oval Office. Between now and November 3rd, something could conceivably shift the momentum against him, such as a Vice-Presidential pick that backfires, a major slipup in the debates, or a surprising economic upturn. Right now, though, the challenger’s strategy of keeping the focus on the incumbent and pitching a broad tent that accommodates anyone who wants to see the back of Trump is working well."
Data note: despite my best efforts, they managed to garble my description of the data sources. The 2016 data are from the States of Change project and have nothing to do with the exit polls; we modeled data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, the Census' American Community Survey and election returns down to the county level. The 2020 data are from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape weekly surveys and are based on surveys from May 1 onward, a total of 43,000 cases.
That said, still a great article!