Wednesday, July 31, 2019

It's Not Enough To Get Votes, You've Got To Get 'Em in the Right Places

I would say Biden seems more concerned about this than his closet rivals Considering that the Democrats won the popular vote in 2016 but lost the electoral vote, you would think this would be more on people's minds. Perhaps that helps explain how some of his rivals seem so enamored of positions that might indeed help run up the vote in California, New York or Massachusetts but not so much elsewhere.
This is problematic because the possibility of a split between popular and electoral vote results remains very real. In fact, some of the ways the country is changing--which are otherwise helpful for the Democrats--make such an outcome more, not less, probable.
I've written about this previously but I recommend this recent article by David Wasserman for a clear rehearsal of some of the relevant data.
"The nation's two most populous states, California and Texas, are at the heart of Democrats' geography problem.
Both behemoths are growing more diverse at a much faster rate than the nation — owing to booming Asian and Latino populations — and are trending toward Democrats. Yet neither blue California nor red Texas would play a pivotal role in a close 2020 election, potentially rendering millions of additional Democratic votes useless.
Over the past four years for which census estimates are available, California's population of nonwhite voting-age citizens has exploded by 1,585,499, while its number of white voting-age citizens has declined by a net 162,715. The Golden State's GOP is in free fall: In May 2018, the state's Republican registrants fell to third place behind "no party preference" voters for the first time. In 2016, Clinton stretched Barack Obama's 2012 margin from 3 million to 4.2 million votes. But padding that margin by another 1.2 million votes wouldn't yield the 2020 Democratic nominee a single additional Electoral vote.
Over the same time period, Texas has added a net 1,188,514 nonwhite voting-age citizens and just 200,002 white voting-age citizens. Texas' economic boom has attracted a diverse, highly professional workforce to burgeoning urban centers of Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio and shifted the state's politics leftward — especially as GOP votes have begun to "max out" in stagnant rural areas. In 2016, Clinton cut Obama's 2012 deficit from 1.2 million to just over 800,000. But again, even cutting Trump's margin by 800,000 wouldn't yield the 2020 Democratic nominee a single additional Electoral vote.
Democrats' potential inefficiencies aren't limited to California and Texas: The list of the nation's top 15 fastest-diversifying states also includes the sizable yet safely blue states of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington and Oregon."
Wasserman concludes:
"Mired at an approval rating in the low 40s, Trump has a narrow path to re-election. But the concentration of demographic change in noncompetitive states, particularly California and Texas, threatens to further widen the chasm between the popular vote and the Electoral College, easing his path. Trump could once again win with less than 47 percent, a victory threshold far below the share of the popular vote the Democratic nominee might need.
The ultimate nightmare scenario for Democrats might look something like this: Trump loses the popular vote by more than 5 million ballots, and the Democratic nominee converts Michigan and Pennsylvania back to blue. But Trump wins re-election by two Electoral votes by barely hanging onto Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Maine's 2nd Congressional District — one of the whitest and least college-educated districts in the country."
Likely? Maybe not. But Democrats should start taking the possibility seriously and adapt their politics accordingly. And no, I don't think it's a good idea to wait for the general election campaign to do so.
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Analysis: The nation's two most populous states, California and Texas, are at the heart of Democrats' geography problem.

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