Sunday, June 23, 2019

What Do Black Voters Want?

One thing's for sure, it's better to look at the actual data rather than the expressed views of leaders, self-appointed and otherwise, because the two can diverge very sharply.
In this regard, the recent poll of black voters conducted for the Black Economic Alliance by Hart Research is illuminating. As well summarized by David Leonhardt (full data provided in link below):
"In the poll, people were given a list of 14 economic policies and asked how much they thought each would help the black community. The list was full of progressive ideas: paid leave and better workplace benefits; a higher minimum wage; a federal jobs guarantee; stronger laws against discrimination; reparations for descendants of slaves; and more.
On a straight up-or-down basis, a majority of black Americans favored every one of the 14 policies. But there was a fairly wide gap in how much they thought each would help. At the top of the list were a higher minimum wage, stronger discrimination laws and better workplace benefits and training. About 70 percent of respondents said each of those would help “a great deal.”
At the bottom of the list: Slavery reparations. Second to last: a federal jobs guarantee. Only about half of respondents said each would help a great deal.
What’s going on here? To me, it’s a reminder that black Americans, as a group, don’t have the same political opinions as the most liberal parts of the Democratic coalition. On many issues, black Americans are more moderate — or perhaps more pragmatic."
Of course, that's not the impression you'd get from listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates, who recently testified before Congress on the issue of reparations. But then, Coates is probably pretty far away from the views of the median black voter. Closer perhaps is Coleman Hughes, a brilliant young (he's still an undergraduate at Columbia) black intellectual, who also testified at that Congressional hearing.
"In 2008 the House of Representatives formally apologized for slavery and Jim Crow. In 2009, the Senate did the same. Black people don’t need another apology. We need safer neighborhoods and better schools. We need a less punitive criminal justice system. We need affordable healthcare. And none of these things can be achieved through reparations for slavery...
If we were to pay reparations today, we would only divide the country further – making it harder to build the political coalitions required to solve the problems facing black people today. We would insult many black Americans by putting a price on the suffering of their ancestors, and turn the relationship between black Americans and white Americans from a coalition into a transaction, from a union between citizens into a lawsuit between plaintiffs and defendants."
This point--about the divergence between the median black voter and the views of certain liberal elites, both black and white--is also relevant to understanding the kerfuffles around Joe Biden's various missteps around racially-inflected issues and how much they are likely to hurt him with black voters. Perry Bacon, Jr. addressed this question recently in a 538 column and gets it exactly right think. While acknowledging that it's certainly possible Biden's statements will hurt him seriously, he thinks it's quite possible that:
"[these statements] could alternatively not really damage him much at all — even among black voters. Poll after poll has found that Biden has very, very high approval ratings among black voters. For example, a survey conducted last month on behalf of the Black Economic Alliance found that 76 percent of black Democrats are either enthusiastic or comfortable with Biden’s candidacy, compared to just 16 percent who are uncomfortable or have some reservations. This was the best favorable/unfavorable of any of the candidates that respondents were asked about. And according to data from Morning Consult, which is conducting weekly polls of the 2020 race with large sample sizes — giving us more resolution on results for subgroups — older black voters really, really like Biden: He is getting more than 55 percent of the Democratic primary vote among blacks age 45 and over, compared to 34 percent among blacks under age 45.
So I’m skeptical that this controversy will substantially erode that support, particularly among older black voters who have such positive feelings about Biden. In the early stages of this race, he has already weathered another issue that involves race: his treatment of Anita Hill during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas in 1991, when Biden was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee."
He concludes:
"It’s hard to predict what will happen to Biden’s standing in the wake of this week’s news. But I think it’s increasingly clear that the way we think about racial controversies (with the implication that minorities are particularly triggered by them) and the black vote (assuming it is fairly monolithic) are off. Biden’s positive mentions of his work with segregationist senators may have annoyed nonblack Democrats as much or more than black ones. And the biggest question is not whether it pulls all black people from Biden — the younger ones are already kind of ambivalent about him — but whether it breaks his bond with older black people."
People like, well, Whoopi Goldberg, who said on the program, The View:
"After introducing Hot Topic with clips of Biden, Booker, and Harris, Goldberg launched into a passionate monologue defending Biden from his critics. “You have to work with people you don’t like,” she said of segregationists like Thurmond, Richard Russell Jr., and Sam Ervin. “Beat Biden in the debates. If you can beat him, beat him. Don’t try to make him out a racist.” Goldberg went on to say that Biden can’t possibly be “a racist” because “he sat for eight years with a black guy” in the White House. “What, did he have a noose in the background?” she asked, earning her a massive round of applause from the audience."
So we shall see how all this works out. But above all, I recommend close attention to actual data about the views of black voters and--I'm looking at you white liberals--rather than making assumptions that the views of these voters match your own views.
About this website
NYTIMES.COM
Black voters’ complex views on slavery payments.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

They May Love Trump at His Rally, But the Rest of Florida--Not So Much

With Trump kicking off his re-election campaign with a boffo rally in Orlando, FL, it's a good time to check in on how the Prez is doing in the Sunshine State. Felicitously, Quinnipiac has just released a new Florida poll that allows us to assess this.
According to the poll, Trump is doing rather poorly. In a matchup with possible Democratic nominee Joe Biden, he is behind by 9 points, 50-41. Lest this bedeemed too much of an outlier, Trump was behind by a similar margin in Florida in the leaked Trump campaign polls (which he claims don't exist; maybe he'll claim Quinnipiac doesn't exist either).
The internals of the poll are of considerable interest. Comparing the Quinnnipiac results with the States of Change results from 2016, Biden runs somewhat ahead of Clinton among Hispanics, but what really drives Biden's current showing against Trump is superior performance among Florida whites. Here are the comparisons:
All whites: Clinton, -22; Biden, -10
College whites: Clinton, -7; Biden, -1
Noncollege whites: Clinton, -30; Biden, -19
Given that whites will probably be close to two-thirds of Florida voters in 2020 and that noncollege whites will probably be about two-thirds of white voters, these are impressive results of potentially great significance.
Will these results hold? Who knows, but it seems like a sure bet that Trump will be holding many more rallies in Florida.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Let's Face It, Nancy Pelosi Is Pretty Smart

I know a lot of people are annoyed that Pelosi is not leading the charge to impeach Trump....but really any sober consideration of the evidence would lead one to conclude she is doing the right thing. Instead. she had concentrated on uniting her caucus to pass progressive bills that, for sure, will not become law but do force GOP members to cast potentially costly votes against the bills.
Perry Bacon, Jr. has the goods on 538:
"Pelosi has outlined an agenda of nine signature bills. Democrats have approved six of them. And Pelosi’s agenda, unlike impeachment, is popular with the public; it unites congressional Democrats and to some extent divides congressional Republicans. And these bills, as opposed to impeaching Trump, align well with what appears to be Pelosi’s broader strategy: to force GOP incumbents to vote against popular legislation in advance of the 2020 elections, protect Democrats in closely divided districts from tough votes, and keep the Democrats talking about and doing things that the public likes.
Five of the bills passed without a single ‘no’ vote from a Democrat. A bill to expand background checks to nearly all gun sales drew two “no” votes among Democrats — both from members who represent districts won by Trump in 2016. That’s more than 1,200 total “yes” votes for the Pelosi agenda among Democratic House members, compared with two “no” votes....
The key planks in the bills all have the support of the majority of the public — and some of them (like expanding background checks for gun sales) are extremely popular, according to polls....
[A]s Pelosi faces an increasingly vocal faction of her party pushing for impeachment, the speaker has a pretty strong anti-impeachment argument: Why should Democrats push a fairly unpopular position with no chance of success when they can instead push forward equally fruitless but at least popular positions?
Her view might carry the day. Lots of House Democrats might ultimately support impeaching Trump if it were to come up for a vote. But only about a quarter of them are pushing for it now. The rest are tacitly approving of Pelosi’s strategy — and it’s not surprising that a bunch of politicians approve of a strategy that looks so good politically."
In short, Nancy Pelosi is doing her job and doing it well. We'll just have to get rid of Trump the old-fashioned way--by voting him out of office. And by steering her party away from divisive issue of impeachment, Pelosi is increasing the chances of accomplishing that goal.
About this website
FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM
One of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s arguments against a Democratic push for the impeachment of President Trump is essentially … “What’s the point?” With Repub…

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Is Trump an Underdog for Re-Election?

I guess I'm not entirely sure about that but you can certainly make a case for that proposition. Now that the early spate of Trump-will-win-because-of-the-economy-and incumbency stories have died down, we're now seeing a number of assessments that look across all the evidence and see him as being in pretty bad shape.
Of course, most Democrats are reluctant even to breathe the sentiment, given how Trump seemed to beat the odds in 2016. But that doesn't mean it isn't true. As Josh Kraushaar of National Journal--not at all a Democratic;leaning guy--puts it:
"Democrats still have so much post-traumatic stress from the last presidential campaign that they’re unable to recognize the obvious: President Trump is a serious underdog for reelection.
It’s remarkable to see the contortions that otherwise-savvy politicians, operatives, and analysts take in order to avoid this reality. President Obama’s former press secretary, Ben LaBolt, fretted in The Atlantic that Trump’s campaign is out-strategizing its Democratic opposition. Obama auto czar Steve Rattner warned in The New York Times that leading economic models predict a Trump landslide....
The reality? Trump is in the weakest political shape of any sitting president since George H.W. Bush. Despite a historically strong economy, his job approval ratings are still badly underwater. He’s never hit 50 percent job approval in any reputable national poll throughout his presidency. At least 40 percent of voters are fired up to vote against him, no matter what happens in the next year. He’s already lost ground with the working-class voters who defected from the Democrats to support him in 2016, with his favorability rating dropping 19 points among that critical Obama-Trump constituency in the last two years.
The latest wave of polling is even more alarming for Trump. His campaign’s own internal polling reportedly shows him trailing in many of the must-win battleground states. A new Quinnipiac survey shows Trump trailing all six Democrats tested against him; what's more, he couldn’t win more than 42 percent of the vote against anyone....In the latest Morning Consult tracking survey, Trump hits 50 percent disapproval ratings in North Carolina, Arizona, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Iowa—all states he carried in 2016."
Stuart Rothenberg--another not particularly pro-Democratic analyst--considers some of the same data and renders a somewhat more reserved, but consistent, judgement.
"No matter how many economists, political scientists or investment bankers are involved, predictive models based solely on economic data miss the point because they look at only one aspect of a presidency and only one facet of a presidential election. My column from Sept. 18 last year, “Why it’s NOT the Economy, Stupid,” sought to explain why the economy would not be decisive in the midterms and why it might well be less important than usual next year.
Models predicting a Trump wave strike me as more about clicks and being contrarian than about taking a dispassionate look at the 2020 election...
Given Trump’s inability to broaden his appeal and the likelihood that Democrats will be more united and energized than they were in 2016, the Democratic ticket deserves to be given a narrow but clear advantage.
“Tilting Democratic” still seems a reasonable rating to me at this early stage of the race."
And Harry Enten of CNN assesses the situation this way:
"The 2020 election is a long way off. We don't know what Trump will do over the next 17 months. We don't know who the Democrats will nominate.
But Trump likely needs something to change if he wants to win reelection."
Of course, "underdog" doesn't mean "for sure going to lose". The other side of the equation is a strong Democratic campaign that doesn't make too many unforced errors. Gulp.
NATIONALJOURNAL.COM
Democrats can lower expectations all they want, but polls show the president facing a decisive defeat.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

2020: High Voter Turnout and Yes, the White Working Class Will Still Matter

Ron Brownstein has an excellent and important new article out on the Atlantic website. And I say that not just because he uses my States of Change data and quotes me in a few places! No, it's because his analysis is spot on and he's really done his homework, digging into the data in a thorough way most political journalists never bother with.
"Signs are growing that voter turnout in 2020 could reach the highest levels in decades—if not the highest in the past century—with a surge of new voters potentially producing the most diverse electorate in American history.
But paradoxically, that surge may not dislodge the central role of the predominantly white and heavily working-class voters who tipped the three Rust Belt states that decided 2016: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Even amid a tide of new participation, those same voters could remain the tipping point of the 2020 election....
Data from States of Change show that over the past quarter-century, white voters without a college education have typically declined as a share of actual voters little by little over each four-year presidential cycle: They fell from 61 percent of voters in 1992 to 44 percent in 2016. Minority voters, meanwhile, have increased over those seven election cycles from 15 percent in 1992 to 26 percent in 2016. And college-educated whites have drifted up, from 24 percent in 1992 to 30 percent in 2016.
The 2016 election, however, was something of an anomaly for blue-collar white people. Partly because Trump inspired so many non-college-educated white voters to turn out—and partly because African American turnout skidded so badly—white working-class voters declined less than usual in 2016 as a share of the electorate, States of Change concluded. But in 2018, as turnout surged among minority and younger voters, non-college-educated whites suffered a much sharper decline: Compared with 2014, they fell by 4 to 5 percentage points as a share of the total vote, according to both Catalist’s estimates and McDonald’s analysis of census figures. That’s about double their average decline from one presidential election to the next over the past quarter-century.
Ruy Teixeira, a veteran liberal analyst and a co-founder of States of Change, believes it’s likely that in 2020 the decline in blue-collar white people’s share of the total vote could again push toward the high end of recent experience, shrinking by as much as 3 percentage points, to just over 40 percent. “I think if we do have a high-turnout election that builds on the trends we saw in 2018, you might see the white non-college share decline significantly more than it did in 2016,” Teixeira says.
Those changes pose obvious problems for Trump in winning the national popular vote. But they also present a challenge for Democrats, because these shifts are not evenly distributed among the states. The electorate is not diversifying nearly as fast in the three Rust Belt states that Trump dislodged from the Blue Wall—Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Those states, for years to come, will remain older and whiter than the nation overall, meaning that to win them, Democrats have to run better with older, whiter voters than they do in most places.....
Unless and until Democrats can tip some of the potential Sun Belt battlegrounds, particularly Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina, the party can’t reach 270 Electoral College votes without recapturing some of the Rust Belt states least affected by demographic change.
Teixeira is one of many Democratic strategists who say the party’s top priority must remain regaining those Rust Belt states, because it cannot yet rely enough on the Sun Belt. “How can you possibly count on these states?” he says. “Democrats haven’t won Florida for a while. Arizona, they haven’t won in a million years. Georgia, Texas—are you kidding me? These are hard states. You cannot build a strategy around having to win those states.”
Chipping into Trump’s base of non-college-educated and rural white voters isn’t the only way for Democrats to win back the Rust Belt states he took in 2016: They could also theoretically recapture them by increasing turnout among young people and minorities, and converting more suburban white people. But in a 2020 election likely to be defined by a historic surge of new voters, many Democrats are resigned to facing the same old challenge of scratching out a few more votes in mostly white union halls and country diners across the Upper Midwest."
So in 2020 we'll likely have a spectacularly large, diverse electorate, with high turnout across the board. But the white working class will still matter. A lot.
About this website
THEATLANTIC.COM
Even with a surge in overall participation, white working-class voters could still remain decisive in the 2020 election.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Warren Surge

There's no doubt Warren has been doing better lately. It's also true that it's a fairly modest surge. The RCP rolling average has her at about 10 percent of Dem primary voters, not really different than where she was 3 weeks ago, after which she went down a bit and then up a bit. But it's reasonable to think of her as being in third place behind Sanders, who has stalled out, and Biden, who has lost a bit of altitude.
She's also not running that much better than she has been against Trump in trial heats; Biden continues to lap the field in this regard. In the latest Quinnipiac poll, Biden crushes Trump by 13 points, including, astonishingly almost tying Trump among white voters. Warren beats Trump by about half of Biden's margin, with about twice Biden's deficit among white noncollege voters. How she would fare among this demographic in a general election continues to worry me.
(Below Warren is the brown line, when you click thru to the full picture)

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Denmark Lesson

The Danish social democrats ran in the recent Denmark national elections on a left, anti-austerity program on economics and a fairly tough stance on immigration--described by the party's leader, Mette Frederiksen, as both "realistic and fair". The result: her center-left "red bloc" took the majority of the seats in the Danish parliament, meaning that Frederiksen should be the next prime minister. The far right populists, on the other hand, lost badly.
This excellent result contrasts rather starkly with the dreadful performance of many other European social democratic parties recently. This is generating considerable debate in European social democratic circles about whether Denmark is demonstrating a road forward out of the current mire. And well it should; the situation of European social democracy is dire and in urgent need of correction.
Paul Collier argues the case for the relevance of the Denmark social democratic path in a challenging piece in the New Statesman. His concern is to show that Frederiksen and her party are trying to recapture something vital about social democracy that has been lost in recent times. Their stance on immigration is not just political expediency but about re-establishing something very fundamental about social democracy's commitment to the common good and common purpose.
"Following her success in the Danish elections, Mette Frederiksen is set to return the Social Democrats to power. This contrasts starkly with such parties’ fate elsewhere in Europe: the long melancholy roar of an ebb tide. Mette’s explanation for that decline, pitched at working class voters, has been “you didn’t leave us; we left you”. She has won not by ditching core values but by returning to them. To grasp that, we need a larger picture than post-millennium Denmark....
The essence of social democracy was to recognise both the value and the grim limitations of market capitalism, building a belief system among citizens whereby the anxieties that it kept generating could be addressed. Political leaders communicated a sense of common purpose to achieve a forward-looking agenda, matched by inculcating a sense of mutual obligations to deliver it. People learnt that they had duties to each other: not just to their families, but to the entire society. Gradually, the society wove a dense web of reciprocal obligations: trapping people in it by the gentle pressure of self-respect and peer esteem. The economy grew, and the benefits were shared.....
Like other social democratic parties, that in Denmark had always been based on an alliance between the provincial working class and the young metropolitan educated. But the change in the belief system of the metropolitans faced the party with a choice. The metropolitans held the advantage: unions were in decline, while they were on the rise. As they took over the party, the working class gradually drifted off, and disdainful metropolitans accused them of being “deplorable”, by which they meant “fascist”....
Depicting [shared identity and reciprocal obligations] as quasi-fascist was the theatrical conceit of those keen to ditch their obligations. The domain of reciprocity has to be national for the simple reason that the nation is the entity within which the tax revenues needed to meet those obligations can be raised. First and foremost, the key obligations are on skilled metropolitans to hand over more of the high productivity now generated by agglomeration, and which they wrongly attribute entirely to their own abilities.
Mette Frederiksen recognized the need for shared belonging. She is rebuilding common purpose around a forward-looking pragmatic agenda of addressing the new anxieties that global capitalism has thrust on the working class. But after years of neglect, working class voters no longer trusted the party. To re-establish credibility, she needed a “signalling action”: something that, had she been a metropolitan trying to bullshit them, she would not have done....
In tandem with her core focus on returning to the party’s roots in addressing the anxieties faced by working people, Frederiksen is paying serious attention to how integration can best be achieved. All citizens need to absorb the belief system of reciprocal obligations and mutual regard that underpins Denmark’s social miracle: that is the condition under which immigration from different cultures is sustainable. The acceptance of shared identity by immigrants does not preclude retaining some other identities. But it has to be sufficiently manifest to generate the common knowledge that they have embraced the identity, the common purpose, and the obligations that come with them....
Frederiksen is pioneering the renewal of European social democracy: at its core is the rebuilding of shared identity, common purpose, and mutual obligations that eludes the metropolitans."
Very interesting analysis. We shall see how the debate within European social democracy evolves from here.
About this website
NEWSTATESMAN.COM
Following her success in the Danish elections, Mette Frederiksen is set to return the Social Democrats to power. This contrasts starkly with such parties’ fate elsewhere in Europe: the long melancholy roar of an ebb tide. Mette’s explanation for that decline, pitched at working class voters, has...

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Why Is Joe Biden Beating Donald Trump in Texas?

I hasten to say that this is just in one poll--the latest Quinnipiac poll--and of course does not mean Biden would necessarily beat Trump in a real-world election. But it is still instructive. Here's why.
First, note that Biden is the only one of the Democratic candidates tested (Warren, Harris, O'Rourke, Buttigieg, Castro, Sanders) who beats Trump in this poll. O'Rourke, interestingly enough, loses to Trump by a margin essentially identical to his deficit to Ted Cruz in 2018.
So what's the Biden difference here? Comparing this Biden-Trump trial heat to the O'Rourke-Cruz exit poll results (an imperfect instrument I know, but that's what we've got), Biden runs about as well as O'Rourke 2018 among Hispanics, blacks and white college voters but runs a significantly smaller deficit among white noncollege voters (39 vs. 48 points). There's the difference.
Could Biden replicate that (relatively) good performance among white noncollege voters in a general election. Who knows? But whoever the nominee is, that's going to be part of the formula for really putting the state in play.