Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Can Biden Rebuild the Blue Wall?

I suspect nothing will come easily in this election, but there are some very promising signs, in both the geographic and demographic voting patterns in Michigan. Tim Alberta in Politico has a good summary of the key data:
"Unofficially, [Biden] beat Sanders by 22 points in Oakland County, where Clinton beat Sanders by just 4 points in 2016. And whereas Clinton won roughly 92,000 votes there, Biden is on pace to win more than 150,000.
It was a similar story in neighboring Macomb County, a more downscale suburb of Detroit, where turnout soared and Biden vastly outperformed Clinton. Nearly 130,000 people participated in the Democratic primary, up 33 percent from 2016. And whereas four years ago Clinton and Sanders fought Macomb to a virtual draw, with Clinton winning some 47,500 votes, Biden topped Sanders by 17 points, collecting more than 66,000 votes in the process.
Biden’s performance among the wealthier suburbanites in these counties should be highly worrisome to Trump. These voters—particularly whites with college degrees—are accepting of the former vice president in a way they never were of Clinton. Four years ago, exit polling of Michigan’s primary showed Sanders winning college-educated whites by 11 points; Biden beat Sanders among that demographic by 14 points on Tuesday, a 25-point swing.
If more of those upper-scale suburbanites are found in Oakland, then Macomb is home to more middle-class Metro Detroiters. Interestingly—and just as worrisome for Republicans—both groups behaved the same way at the polls. Sanders, who won whites without a college degree by 15 points over Clinton, lost them by 10 points to Biden. That’s an identical 25-point swing. This was visible not only in Southeast Michigan, but in Mid-Michigan, Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, conservative rural areas that were dominated by Sanders four years ago. With most of the votes counted, Biden appeared poised to win every single one of those counties north of Ingham, many of them by healthy margins, an astonishing feat.
The story of The Trump Realignment has been an exchange between the two parties: More of the well-educated suburbanites fleeing the GOP for the Democratic ranks, with more of the blue-collar rural and exurban voters joining the Republican Party. This tradeoff, while unsustainable for the GOP over future election cycles, never figured to torpedo Trump’s reelection. But what Biden demonstrated on Tuesday was an ability to have it both ways—accelerating the GOP’s exodus in the suburbs while stopping his party’s bleeding in the exurban and rural areas beyond. If he can do that in November, he’ll win."
That's exactly right: rack up the votes in educated white suburbia while chipping away at Trump's advantage among downscale whites in other areas--or at least preventing further erosion--and it becomes very difficult for him to win.
That was the argument I made in my Path to 270 Report with John Halpin and Biden should have a good shot at implementing that strategy across the Rustbelt. Indeed, combine that with no falloff in black turnout (I actually think Biden is likely to do better than Clinton in this regard) and the blue wall could well go back up in November, likely ending the Trump era (and not a moment too soon).
A broad, convincing win should make Republicans nervous about November.

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