Thursday, August 22, 2019

Impeach Him? Nope.

Much as some Democrats want to do this, the public is not very enthusiastic. In fact, they flat out don't want to do it.
In the latest Monmouth poll (rated A+ by 538), just 35 percent want to impeach Trump and remove him from office, compared to 59 percent who are opposed. And this is not a particularly pro-Trump poll. His approval rating in the poll is just 40 percent and his re-elect number is only 39 percent.
But voters just aren't behind the impeachment idea. Consider the crosstabs from the poll. Noncollege whites are opposed by 67-27--but so are white college graduates, 67-26. Independents are opposed 64-20, residents of swing counties by 65-26 and moderates by 55-36. Even nonwhites are only narrowly in favor, 51-44.
So, face the facts: impeachment is just not popular. Thank heavens for Nancy Pelosi who is holding the line on this issue.
About this website
Democrats want inquiry despite little likelihood of ousting Trump

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Are Democratic Candidates Coming to Their Senses?

Well, maybe (except for Bernie). Chelsea Janes and Michael Scherer report in the Post:
"The idea of Medicare-for-all — a unified government health program that would take over the basic function of private insurance — became a liberal litmus test at the outset of the presidential campaign, distinguishing Democratic contenders who cast themselves as bold visionaries from more moderate pragmatists.
But in recent months, amid polling that shows concern among voters about ending private insurance, several of the Democratic hopefuls have shifted their positions or their tone, moderating full-throated endorsement of Medicare-for-all and adopting ideas for allowing private insurance in some form.....
This unmistakable, if sometimes subtle, shift in tone stems in part from Democrats’ fear of giving away a newfound advantage over Republicans on health care."
Sensible! This gets the coveted Common Sense Democrat seal of approval. It's not like the data on this has exactly been a state secret, as detailed in the article.
"A Washington Post-ABC News poll in July found that 52 percent of Americans overall, and 77 percent of Democrats, prefer a universal health program to the current system. But support dropped to 43 percent and 66 percent, respectively, when respondents were told that it would mean eliminating private insurance.
Other surveys have found less support. About 8 in 10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents in a Pew poll in July said the federal government has a responsibility to ensure health coverage, but less than half said it should be through a single government plan.
And in a July poll of Iowa voters by CBS News/YouGov, two-thirds of Democrats said they preferred a government health program that competed with private insurance, compared with 34 percent who favored one that replaced private insurance entirely."
I encourage the candidates to keep on paying attention to the actually-existing views of the actually-existing American people. It works wonders.
About this website
Kamala Harris’s switch on health care highlights a broader move by Democrats to soften their initial enthusiasm for a sweeping government health plan.

Good News from Arizona!

A new Arizona poll from OH Predictive Insights has Mark Kelly ahead of Martha McSally 46-41 in a 2020 Senate trial head matchup. Notably, as shown in the graphic below, Kelly is ahead in Maricopa county (Phoenix metro) by 9 points and in Pima county (Tuscon metro) by 10 points.
This is huge because these two counties together totally dominate the Arizona vote--over three-quarters of voters between them and over 60 percent in Maricopa alone. Note that these patterns are similar to those we saw in 2018 when Kyrsten Sinema won her Senate seat over McSally.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Fearless Forecasting Department: Interview with Rachel Bitecofer

Paul Rosenberg has an interesting and somewhat reverential interview on Salon with Rachel Bitecofer, a Christoper Newport University political scientist. Bitecofer, as some of you may recall, was out early with a very accurate and detailed model-based House prediction for 2018.
To which I'd say: good for her but it doesn't mean that everything she now says and predicts is correct. Unfortunately, she now seems a bit more confident in her judgments and predictions that she probably should be.
The negative partisanship stuff she alludes to in the interview is real and she is right to take is seriously. But her methodology doesn't really show some of the things she thinks it shows. This is particularly true of her pronouncements on the overwhelming role of turnout in the 2018 election. The best, most careful and sophisticated analysis of 2016-2018 changes, using individual level vote data, is not consistent with her pronouncements. This is the Catalist analysis which shockingly she does not even mention. That analysis showed that 90 percent of the Democrats' margin advantage in 2018 was due to people who voted for Trump in 2016 but Democratic in 2018. Whatever that is, it's not turnout.
That's the trouble with believing your own press clippings--you tend to overstate your case. I would take her view on the centrality of base mobilization and the alleged efficacy of turning up the "progressive" dial to maximum in 2020 with an entire cellarful of salt.

About this website
Rachel Bitecofer predicted last year's midterms with incredible accuracy. Her 2020 forecast is ... not too bad

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Working Class Vs. The "Woke-eoisie": Which Way Will Elizabeth Warren Go?

Elizabeth Warren could win the Democratic nomination and even win the general election. But to do so, she's got to make some changes. As Jeff Greenfield notes in Politico
"The strategic premises of her campaign are to claim the progressive mantle from Bernie Sanders, stake the “alternative to Biden” ground, and then engage in a one-on-one battle for the nomination....There are significant challenges to this strategy, not the least of which is winning over a reasonable share of the African American vote, where Biden dominates.....
In polls, Warren trails Biden in South Carolina by dozens of points. What’s more, about half of the state’s black Democrats say they support Biden, while Warren is practically tied for the lead among the state’s white Democrats.
And African American Democrats are, as Tom Edsall pointed out in a much-discussed column in the New York Times, on average, more centrist than white Democrats. The party’s “more moderate wing, which is pressing bread-and-butter concerns like jobs, taxes and a less totalizing vision of health care reform, is majority nonwhite, with almost half of its support coming from African-American and Hispanic voters,” he wrote.
So it would make sense for Warren to draw some distinctions between herself and her party’s most liberal voters, in order to make her candidacy more appealing—or at least acceptable—to the elements of her party that do not fully embrace the canon. And there’s a long history of winning presidential candidates doing this without alienating their most loyal supporters."
This shouldn't be so hard. Most of her economic positions are fine in the context of today's Democratic party and can be sold to a wider electorate in a general election. Voters really do oppose crony capitalism and really do want a reformed system that isn't dominated by the rich and Wall Street and is focused on the welfare of the middle class and poor. That plugs right into the concerns of the moderate voters, particularly nonwhite and working class voters, mentioned by Edsall.
But Warren has gone too far in some areas, competing to seem the most "woke" on issues like decriminalizing the border and reparations and endorsing Medicare for All instead of Medicare for All Who Want It. This is not necessary. Her strong economic program has great appeal but so far Warren's support is heavily dominated by educated whites, with very little noncollege or nonwhite support, as shown by the graphic below.
That needs to change and the way to do it is to take positions that appeal to the working class, not the "woke-eoisie", and ditch the ones that don't. My guess is she'd retain most of her educated white support anyway but start gaining in places where she's currently weak. If she wants to win, that may be a bet she'll have to make.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Did Third Parties Sink Hillary Clinton in 2016?

People are asking this question--or flat out claiming third parties did sink her--because they are worried about how such parties might affect the Democrats' chances of defeating Trump in 2020. As one example, Josh Marshall recently stated:
"[I]t’s really the unusually high 5.7% of the vote going to three third party candidates — Gary Johnson, Jill Stein and Evan McMullin — that made it possible for Trump to win as a minority candidate."
Thinking about the 2020 election, there are certainly scenarios where third parties, depending on their type and the distribution of their vote, could hurt the Democrats.
But, to set the record straight, 2016 does not appear to have been one of those times. In a States of Change report we performed the exercise of re-allocating the "extra" third party vote to see how the election outcome might have been affected if those third party voters had voted for the Democrats or Republicans. As we explained in the report:
"One of the unique features of the 2016 election was the relatively high third-party vote. Nationally, third-party candidates in 2016 collectively garnered about 4 points more than they did in 2012—5.7 percent versus 1.7 percent. While it is possible that similarly high levels of support will appear in future elections, the historical trend would suggest that a decline is more likely after a spike. Given that trend, the authors developed a separate 2016 baseline where third-party vote share is returned to its lower 2012 levels and the rest of the third-party vote share is reallocated based on underlying partisan preferences."
The result: Trump still wins the electoral vote, only by a larger margin, 309-229. This is because he still carries the key states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, while also carrying New Hampshire by a narrow margin. This makes sense when one considers the actual distribution of the third part vote in these states: Michigan, 3.6 percent Johnson, 1.1 percent Stein; New Hampshire, Johnson 4.9/Stein .9; Pennsylvania, Johnson 2.4, Stein .8; Wisconsin, Johnson 3.6, Stein 1.
So the third party effect is not necessarily anti-Democratic. And Hillary Clinton did not lose the 2016 election because of it. As for 2020, we should wait until we have more information before we make a judgment on who it will help and who it will hurt.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Warren Munching Happily on Sanders' Support

This trend has been apparent for awhile but the new Fox News poll throws this into high relief. (To repeat from an earlier post: the Fox poll is a very good poll, rated "A" by 538). As shown in the graphic below, since March Biden is flatlined at 31 percent, while Warren is up 16 points to 20 percent and Sanders is down 13 points to 10 percent. This is consistent with the RCP running poll average.
Warren still struggles among black voters, receiving just 8 percent support to 37 percent for Biden. She also does relatively poorly among white noncollege voters, with 15 percent support to 34 percent for Biden. However, she edges Biden 33-29 among white college voters.
The poll also includes trial heats testing the four top-polling potential Democratic nominees against Trump. They all beat him by margins ranging from 6-12 points. The strongest candidate, as has been typical for months, is Biden at 50-38 against Trump.
The internals of the trial heats are interesting because they provide indications of what a winning Democratic coalition might look like. Looking at the Biden-Trump matchup, the most favorable for Democrats at this time, the key here is not the 11 point advantage among white college voters, which we might expect, but rather the unusually modest deficit among white noncollege voters--a mere 12 points. For Democrats these days, that would be a standout performance among this demographic.
Further, Biden in this trial heat only runs 4 points (!) behind Trump among white noncollege women. This group, as numerous recent analyses have suggested, is the soft underbelly of Trump's coalition. This poll reminds us of the rich dividends Democrats could reap by capitalizing on that vulnerability.
There are also a number of interesting questions on mass shootings and gun safety that are well worth looking at.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

America the Liberal

Yes, yes, I know, Trump and all that. But facts, gentlemen and women, are stubborn things and the facts are that Americans are in a pretty liberal mood these days. How do I know?--because James Stimson's public policy mood measure tells me so. Gregory Koger's post on the Mischiefs of Faction site has the details:
"Stimson’s updated measure of public policy mood....revealed that Americans' support for government action is at its highest point since the index began in 1952....
As explained in (among other places) Public Opinion In America and Tides of Consent, public policy mood combines polling responses across a wide range of policy issues to measure the American public’s collective appetite for more or less government, liberal or conservative policies. Even if we think citizens are not fully informed about stock market regulation, health care insurance, and the dozens of other specific policies pollsters ask them about, Stimson’s mood measures their underlying preference for government activism.
The mood index helps us understand previous shifts in American politics. Before 2018, the mood index peaked in the 1960s, coinciding with landmark civil rights laws, Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society social welfare policies, and the expansion of civil liberties by Supreme Court decisions. During this period there was a dramatic increase in the number of issues addressed by government actors. Public appetite for more government reached a nadir around 1980, inspiring the Republican Party to embrace a starkly conservative presidential candidate and a range of policies that would have seemed unthinkable a decade earlier.
The updated mood index shows public policy mood is at its peak. This manifests itself in public support for more government action across a range of issues: gun control, health care (e.g. a public option), college tuition, paid parental leave, minimum wage policy, etc. NPR/Marist, for example, polled on a range of Democratic proposals (plus Obamacare repeal) last month. While there are some unpopular items, Democrats have broad support for many of the policies approved by the House or advocated by Democratic presidential candidates."
Of course, this liberal mood won't last forever and much depends on how well Democrats play offence and how well Republicans play defense in this pro-activism period. As Koger notes:
"The history of public mood and American politics suggests the stage is set for progressive policy change after the 2020 election, but this is not guaranteed. It is not clear how well parties will take advantage (Democrats) or deflect (Republicans) public support for more active government. Nor is it clear how well our electoral system—from its campaign financing system to the small-state bias of the Senate and Electoral College—will translate public opinion into government action...If the Democrats gain unified control of the federal government in 2021, the real question is how well they use their window of opportunity to create durable policy programs and systemic political change."
Yes, that's the real question. The public is clearly moving in a liberal direction--but can Democrats get their act together and take maximum advantage? I'd say that's not yet clear.
A summary measure of policy-related polls shows Americans' support for government action is at its highest point since the index began in 1952.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Comrades! Has the Suburban Revolution Arrived?

Well, not exactly. But there is definitely something going on. From a spate of recent articles about suburban shifts:
First Read/NBC
"For all of the discussion about whether Democrats can win Texas in 2020, or whether they have solid chances to flip Senate seats in Arizona and Georgia, one demographic development has become crystal clear:
President Donald Trump is losing America’s suburbs.
In the six national NBC/Wall Street Journal polls conducted this year, Trump’s job rating has been underwater among suburban residents — with just one exception.
One other set of numbers: Per the 2018 national House exit poll, 51 percent of all voters were suburban residents, and they broke evenly for Democratic and Republican candidates, 49 percent to 49 percent.
And what do Arizona, Georgia and Texas have in common?
They have lots of suburban voters — either outside one major metropolitan area (in the cases of Arizona and Georgia), or outside multiple major cities (regarding Texas).
The question Democratic primary voters need to ponder: Which of their 20-some candidates is best able to win these suburbs?"
Sahil Kapur/Bloomberg
"After two gruesome mass shootings in a 24-hour span, some Republicans are raising alarms that their opposition to new firearm limits is making the party toxic to the suburban women and college graduates who will shape the 2020 election.
“Republicans are headed for extinction in the suburbs if they don’t distance themselves from the NRA. The GOP needs to put forth solutions to help eradicate the gun violence epidemic,” said Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor and oil-and-gas executive who supports President Donald Trump....
The 2018 election reflected a changing landscape on guns. Republicans were swept out of the House majority after losing suburban bastions where they were once dominant — in places like Orange County, California, and around Dallas and Houston in Texas. Voters in 2018 favored stricter gun control by a margin of 22 percentage points, and those who did backed Democrats by a margin of 76% to 22%, according to exit polls. Gun policy ranked as the No. 4 concern, and voters who cited it as their top issue voted for Democrats by a margin of 70% to 29%."
Niall Stanage/The Hill
"President Trump has a problem with suburban voters — and it could have profound consequences for his chances of reelection next year.
An NBC News analysis Monday noted that Trump has been “underwater” with suburban voters in five out of six NBC News–Wall Street Journal polls conducted this year.
That finding comports with other surveys that show Trump performing poorly with some of the key voting blocs that populate the nation’s suburbs, notably white women and white college graduates.
Those dynamics make Trump’s path to reelection a steep one, experts say.
“We are a long way off from November 2020, but my general sense is that it is going to be very tough for him to reverse the Democratic trends in the suburbs,” said Terry Madonna, a professor of public affairs and a polling expert at Franklin & Marshall College in the electorally crucial state of Pennsylvania.
Trump won the Keystone State by about 44,000 votes in 2016 — less than 1 percentage point. He rolled up similarly narrow margins of victory in Michigan and Wisconsin, two other states that had been thought to form a reliably Democratic “blue wall.”
The margins were so narrow that any shift in the suburbs could swing those states back into the Democratic column, even if Trump were to retain the enthusiasm of his base."
These shifts are real and potentially enduring. But only potentially. In this regard, it is instructive to to get a clear picture in one's head of who suburban voters actually are. For example reading these articles one gets the impression the suburbs are all about educated whites. But this is highly misleading.
In reality, according to the Catalist data, suburban voters are about one-quarter nonwhites, 30 percent white college graduates and 45 percent white noncollege. That's pretty different from the standard image.
Further if you at the margin shift toward the Democrats in the suburbs in 2018, about as much was accounted for by a pro-Democratic shift among suburban white noncollege voters as by the shift among white college graduates. This is because, while the shift among suburban white college graduates was larger (10 points vs.6 points), the suburban white noncollege group is substantially greater in size.
So: know your 'burbs if you hope to keep this shift going.
About this website
President Trump has a problem with suburban voters — and it could have profound consequences for his chances of reelection next year.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Advocate What's Popular! Don't Advocate What's Unpopular!

These are, respectively, points 5 and 6 of the Common Sense Democrat creed. I was therefore very pleased to come across Yascha Mounk's exceptionally cogent article on the Atlantic site making exactly these points. Mounk opens his article by observing:
"Donald Trump poses a terrible threat to minority communities throughout the country, is deepening the chasm between rich and poor, and is inflicting serious damage on democratic institutions. It’s therefore a matter of the greatest moral urgency to make sure that somebody—anybody—stops Trump from winning a second term in office.
But many of the problems facing the country started well before Trump was elected, and will likely persist even after he leaves the White House. Trump’s unpopularity, coupled with growing support for leftist policies, seems to present progressives with a rare opportunity to win a mandate for real change. It’s therefore a matter of great moral importance to ensure that whoever takes on Trump actually has the determination to address the country’s deep-rooted problems.
Are these two narratives in tension? Not necessarily. To displace Trump and effect radical change, Democrats need to adopt a rather simple strategy: Champion the many progressive policies that are highly popular—and scrupulously resist those that are clearly unpopular."
A simple strategy indeed but many Democrats, bizarrely, continue to resist it. Mounk deals with the most typical objection to this strategy, the ridiculous contention that Democrats can and should advocate the most left possible policies because they will be accused of being crazy socialists anyway. Mounk correctly notes that the effectiveness of these attacks will vary widely, depending on the actual content of the policies being attacked.
"[P]ublic opinion is not infinitely malleable. Indeed, political scientists have also found that most voters are highly loss-averse and deeply sensitive to perceived threats to their material standing. So while they may have only vague opinions on issues that are abstract and feel distant from their daily lives, they are also likely to react strongly when they fear that they may lose a concrete benefit to which they have long been accustomed. This makes it all the more concerning that leading Democratic contenders, including Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and (at various instances) Senator Kamala Harris, have endorsed abolishing private health insurance."
He concludes with a plea for basing progressive politics on the actually-existing views of the actually-existing American public. In his view, this will result in both maximizing the chance Trump will be defeated and the chance that his defeat will result in real change. I agree.
"Most Americans are strenuously opposed to socialism, and instinctively distrust candidates who make breathless promises of political revolution. But they are also deeply dissatisfied with parts of the economic system, and convinced that the people who call the shots—on Wall Street and in Washington—are exploiting that system to serve themselves. As a result, they are simultaneously open to progressive reforms that would help to transform the American economy and deeply protective of the benefits they now enjoy, including their employer-sponsored health insurance.
To appeal to the majority of Americans, Democrats need to offer a principled alternative: a set of policies that promises to fix capitalism by ensuring that everyone truly plays by the same rules—and a narrative that emphasizes the virtues of free enterprise while attacking crony capitalism.
By sticking to progressive policies that are actually capable of winning broad support, Democrats will maximize their chances of defeating Trump and redressing some of the deepest injustices in the country. In 2020, progressives really can have their cake and eat it too—but only if they pay American voters the basic respect of listening to their actual views."
About this website
Voters are more open to progressive economic policy now than in the recent past. But they are not opposed to capitalism.