Monday, August 10, 2020

Nationscape Trial Heat Results in Every Swing State!

Here are the results from the last 12 waves of the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape survey (6,000 respondents a week) for very state that has been considerably even vaguely swingish in this election cycle. I order the trial heat results from largest Biden margin to least.

NM +25 Biden
NH +19
NV +17
VA +15
ME +14
CO +13
MN +12
WI +10
MI +8
AZ +8
PA +7
FL +7
GA +4
NC +3
TX +3
OH -1`
SC -1
IA -3

Interesting, eh?

Sunday, August 9, 2020

South Carolina???

I was shocked to see a new Quinnipiac poll of South Carolina that had Lindsay Graham tied 44-44 with Democratic challenger Jamie Harrison and Biden behind Trump by only 5 points in the state. Then I checked the last 12 weekly waves of the Nationscape survey (6,000 cases a wave) and looked at South Carolina--Biden was behind Trump by only a point and a half! Wow. Not that I expect Biden to carry South Carolina or Harrison to actually beat Graham, but these results show just how dire the GOP"s current situation is.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

So You Want to Forecast an Election....(2)

Recently I highlighted Andrew Gelman's excellent discussion of his--The Economist's--election forecasting model. Here are some additional forecasting discussions plus one new model.

The first item is Natalie Jackson's piece on the problems of election forecasting, both the known unknowns and unknown unknowns. She is pretty down on the whole business now, believing it's too hard to get right, the public doesn't understand the results and in the end it does more harm than good. No doubt her views are influenced by the HuffPost model she developed in 2016 which had Clinton's probability of winning at 98 percent (!)

The second item is a tweetstorm by Drew Linzer, who was responsible for Daily Kos' model in 2016, which was also quite optimistic, if not as optimistic as Jackson's. It's a good discussion of some of the general issues around election forecasting, touching on some of the topics discussed by Gelman. Too bad it's a thread on Twitter instead of a proper post or article somewhere. Still, it's worth looking at.

Finally, Alan Abramowitz is out with a (very) simplified model to predict the election. He is throwing out the influence of the economy and incumbency because of the peculiarities of this election year and instead just using Presidential approval (net in late June)--which he argues is currently driven heavily by approval of Trump's response to the coronavirus crisis--to predict the election. Yes, it's the proverbial one variable model! I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to work quite well this year.

Abramowitz' current prediction based on -15 net Trump approval in late June gives Biden a 70 percent chance of winning the election and a predicted electoral vote of 319-219. If Trump's net approval was still at -15 in late October, the prediction would be 90 percent for a Biden victory and a 361-177 electoral vote (shades of Obama '08!). Abramowitz provides a table where you can interpolate predicted results based on other values for net approval.…/its-the-pandemic-stupid-a-s…/…/poll-based-election-forecas…/

A View from Never Trump Land

It's worth paying attention to the world of the Never Trumpers, from The Lincoln Project to Oren Cass' American Compass and Bill Kristol's The Bulwark. Some very good things are being done and said. Like this piece by Richard North Patterson that recently appeared in The Bulwark:

"Politically, the pandemic has remade Biden into a harbinger of hope—a potentially transformative rather than transitional leader. That he now invokes FDR, who helped deliver America from a vertiginous national crisis, marks a striking change of tone and ambition.

From the outset of the pandemic, Biden has called for a concerted federal response which includes spearheading a comprehensive, rigorous and prompt testing regime. Equally fundamental, Biden appreciates that the virus has aggravated pre-existing social and economic pathologies we can no longer ignore. This reflects an underrated virtue: As a practical politician rather than an ideologue, Biden can respond to changing national imperatives by moving with the temper of the times.

He is doing so with considerable skill. Wisely Biden has committed to a careful balancing act: keeping the oft-fractious components of his party together; attracting swing voters while addressing the urgent concerns of minorities; confronting the consequences of COVID-19; and offering meaningful proposals which, as president, he might actually pass.

To this end, he has forged a shared agenda with Democratic progressives which, without embracing their most tendentious economic litmus tests, addresses needs underscored by the pandemic: expanding low-income housing; improving childcare; funding universal pre-K education; offering free community college; establishing a comprehensive infrastructure program; advancing a robust climate-change agenda that creates well-paying new jobs; and providing universal healthcare grounded in a public option.

He’s no Bernie Sanders, nor should he be—after all, Sanders lost. But Biden promises to be the most progressive Democratic nominee in recent years, at a moment which calls for vigorous new initiatives to retrieve us from our national slough of despond.

Concurrently, Biden has rejected the brain-dead catchphrases that repel most Americans and fuel Trump’s race-based culture war: “abolish ICE” and, more recently, “defund the police.” Instead, he proposes broad immigration reform and embraces practical measures to sustain the racial awakening stemming from George Floyd’s murder: banning chokeholds; reforming qualified immunity for police officers; barring the overuse of military equipment by local police; and passing more funding for community policing.

With similar equipoise, Biden supports decriminalizing marijuana use but opposes legalization. He favors removing monuments to Confederate generals but draws the line at Washington and Jefferson. He advocates a ban on public leases for natural gas fracking, but eschews a fracking ban which could cost him Pennsylvania.

This is more than canny calculation—it’s politically farsighted. To win and then govern, Biden must appeal to some of the disaffected voters Clinton lost in 2016 and rally the suburbanites who helped Democrats win back the House in 2018. He is not running to enthrall the febrile progressives who populate Twitter, but as a steady, seasoned leader who can help heal the wounds Trump is determined to deepen at any cost."

Seems pretty sensible to me!

There is no more glaring contrast between Donald Trump and Joe Biden than that presented by the defining issue of 2020—the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats know that very well. Said pollster Geoff Garin to the Washington Post: Trump is increasingly defined…

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Biden >> Clinton: The Story in Two Charts

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.

Image may contain: text that says 'Biden's national lead over Trump surpasses Clinton's National polling margins for Joe Biden in 2020 and Hillary Clinton in 2016 against President Trump, as of 5 p.m. on Aug. Aug. 4 +10 Biden 7.5 points Clinton® peak lead Trump Clinton on 150 days End of Democratic convention 103 days 120 FiveThirtyEight 60 Days from Election Day 30 lection Day SOURCE: POLLS'
Image may contain: text that says 'Biden has more support than Clinton ever did National polling average for Joe Biden in 2020 and Hillary Clinton in 2016, as of 5 p.m. on Aug. 52% Biden 50 50.1 percent cp 46 on 45.8 percent Clinton' pre- October peak Clinton 42 40 150 days 120 90 60 Days from Election Day FiveThirtyEight 30 Election Day SOURCE: POLLS'

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Black People Want Better Policing, Not Less Policing

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.

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.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Yes, It's That Time of Month Again--The Ruy Teixeira Newsletter Is Back!

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.…

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'Teixeira Monthly Commentary and Analysis August DEMOCRA DE Progressives Got Wrong About Let's Running Biden's Smart Democratio Majority Biden Right Biden Bolshevism Watch And- dare pretty much argued Democrat should Biden excellent excellent Persuasion annoved years mobilization nonvoters candidate, have great policies. elected! other Emerging Democratic hopeless persuasion, hopes releases campaign convinced Biden catching critics the coalition success Trump's Well, probably Democrats wisdom would now nation's politics speech Dunmore.'

Monday, August 3, 2020

Why Is Biden Ahead in North Carolina?

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.

So You Want to Forecast an Election...

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.…/thinking-about-el…/

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

GDP and the Sinking Trump Ship

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."…/trump-economic-approval-ra…/index.html

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Now That You Mention It, Biden's Running a Pretty Darn Good Campaign

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!

He is keeping the focus on Trump and uniting Democrats.

Friday, July 31, 2020

David Brooks (Yes, David Brooks!) Gets It Right

I recommend the excellent new column from David Brooks, "The Future of American Liberalism: What Biden can learn from F.D.R." Strange I suppose that men of the right like David Brooks are now offering very sensible recommendations to the left that include backing fairly radical policy ideas that are assuredly not in the standard Republican playbook. But I welcome it. I suppose we'll hear the predictable caviling from the left that Brooks and his like are not true progressives so we should give them the cold shoulder. I disagree. As Deng Xiaoping put it in a slightly different context: "Who cares if a cat is black or white so long as it catches mice?"


* Offer big change that feels familiar.

Economic and health calamities are experienced by most people as if they were natural disasters and complete societal breakdowns. People feel intense waves of fear about the future. They want a leader, like F.D.R., who demonstrates optimistic fearlessness.

They want one who, once in office, produces an intense burst of activity that is both new but also offers people security and safety. During the New Deal, Social Security gave seniors secure retirements. The Works Progress Administration gave 8.5 million Americans secure jobs....

* Broadcast pragmatism, not ideology.

New Dealers were willing to try anything that met the specific emergencies of the moment. There was a strong anti-ideological bias in the administration and a wanton willingness to experiment. For example, Roosevelt’s first instinct was to cut government spending in order to reduce the deficit, until he flipped, realizing that it wouldn’t work in a depression.

“I really do not know what the basic principle of the New Deal is,” one of his top advisers admitted. That pragmatism reassured the American people, who didn’t want a revolution; they wanted a recovery....

* Get capitalism moving.

The Reconstruction Finance Corporation, run by Jesse Jones, a Hoover administration holdover, gave bankers incentives to take the capital that had been sitting in their vaults and get it out into the community. The Federal Housing Administration backed mortgages. As Louis Hyman of Cornell notes, the F.H.A. induced more private lending in a few months than the Public Works Administration spent during the entire decade. The New Deal was more clever and diverse than just tax-and-spend liberalism...

* Look for imbalances.

Capitalist economies get out of whack from time to time. The New Deal brought balance. It made it easier for workers to unionize and deal on more equal terms with business. Wall Street was too powerful. The New Deal reined it in....

F.D.R. also demonstrated that the most effective leaders in crisis are often at the center of their party, not at left or right vanguard. Abraham Lincoln took enormous heat from abolitionists. But he’s the one who defeated slavery. Theodore Roosevelt had a conservative disposition and lagged behind many Progressives. But he’s the one who led Progressive reforms. F.D.R. was able to pass so much legislation precisely because he was so shifting and pragmatic and did not turn everything into a polarized war.

We’re not going to have another Roosevelt. But in a time of crisis, in an ideological age, he showed it’s possible to get a lot done if you turn down the ideological temperature, if you evade the culture war, if you are willing to be positive and openly experimental."

David Brooks wants you to join the union! I'll take it.

What Biden can learn from F.D.R.