Thursday, April 30, 2020

What If Racial Liberalism Is Increasing?

Tom Edsall has an excellent review of recent research on trends in racial liberalism/conservatism. Among several studies, he highlights one by Daniel Hopkins and Samantha Hopkins that avoids the huge methodological problem of using the standard "racial resentment" battery, which despite its name measures nothing of the sort. (I have posted previously about the problems with the racial resentment battery, if you are interested in searching my archives. And see the Riley Carney and Ryan Enos paper, "Conservatism , Just World Belief , and Racism : An Experimental Investigation of the Attitudes Measured by Modern Racism Scales")
"Daniel Hopkins, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, and Samantha Washington, a former research assistant there, challenge the argument that racial polarization in the United States is increasing. They contend that on matters of race, the views of both groups — white Democrats and white Republicans — are liberalizing.
In their paper — “The Rise of Trump, the Fall of Prejudice? Tracking White Americans’ Racial Attitudes 2008-2018 via a Panel Survey” — Hopkins and Washington use a measure of prejudice that is significantly different from the [racial resentment battery] used by [Andrew] Engelhardt.
Hopkins explained in an email why he and Engelhardt differ in their assessment of white Republicans. In his study, Engelhardt uses responses to the battery of what are known as “racial resentment” questions. Hopkins argued that these questions tend to push Republicans in a conservative direction because some directly relate to a separate issue, the role of government, including questions asking whether the government should intervene to help minorities.
According to Hopkins, some Republicans will oppose intervention on the basis of ideological “small government” principle, not racism, nonetheless raising their racial resentment score.
Hopkins and Washington write that they used a separate measure designed to capture white respondents’ beliefs in stereotypes. Speci´Čücally, our panelists were repeatedly asked to rate Blacks, Hispanics/Latinos, and Whites on two stereotype scales, work ethic and trustworthiness.
The advantage in this approach, they argue, is that the use of in-group stereotypes helps address concerns about social desirability biases, as people can rate an out-group positively while also rating their own group more positively.
As the accompanying graphic shows, Hopkins and Washington found bipartisan declines in anti-black and anti-Hispanic prejudice."
Now, none of this means Trump can't win....but it does indicate that continued support for Trump cannot be explained simply on the basis of racism. It is (and was originally) a far more complex political impulse than that reductionist view suggests. That should be kept in mind as Democrats seek to undercut Trump and build the broadest possible coalition for 2020.
It is even possible, as Hopkins put it in an email to Edsall:
"Overall, I do think these results indicate that the share of white Americans who would rally to a general election campaign because of its explicit appeals to racial prejudice is smaller than many political strategists suppose."

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

In My Mind I'm Going to (North) Carolina...

Losing North Carolina would go far toward making Donald Trump a one-term President. And that could definitely happen. A new SurveyUSA (rated an "A" pollster by 538) poll of NC has Biden ahead 50-45. Besides cleaning up among black voters, Biden is only losing by 20 points among whites, while Clinton lost this group by almost 30 points in 2016. Biden is also leading in the Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh regions, only trailing in the Southern region (14 percent of the vote).
And Cunningham ahead of Tillis by 2 points!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Krysten Sinema: Live Like Her!

Ron Brownstein has a detailed article breaking down the ways in which Biden's emerging strength among older voters could be crucial to his chances for victory. He quotes some guy named Teixeira in a couple of places:
Many Democratic operatives still believe that the party's long-term future will pivot on its capacity to increase turnout among younger and nonwhite voters, especially in the Sun Belt states growing in population. But that conviction is giving way to a growing awareness that the potential path to victory for Biden, given his own unique strengths and weaknesses, may rely less on that forward-leaning mobilization than on a throwback strategy of reducing Donald Trump's elevated margins from 2016 among older and blue-collar white voters to the slightly smaller advantages Republicans enjoyed with them 15 or 20 years ago.
"The idea that expanding the map comes down to high mobilization of the constituencies that give you the most support doesn't necessarily follow," says Ruy Teixeira, a longtime liberal election analyst and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. "You can do the same things by reducing your deficits or becoming competitive among groups where you had been doing quite poorly."...
While some other national polls still show Trump leading with seniors and near-seniors, the general trend line with older voters is more favorable for Biden than it has been for recent Democratic nominees. At the same time, many political professionals in both parties remain uncertain that Biden can excite a large turnout among young people, especially those of color, who rejected him in big numbers during the Democratic primary and have displayed only modest enthusiasm for him in most early general election polls.
"He is not the spark to that flame, for sure," says Republican strategist David Kochel.
Those trends among the young still concern many Democratic operatives. But a closer look at the demographics of the swing states makes clear that for Biden a strategy centered on appealing to older voters, most of them white, could substitute for mobilizing young people, many of them diverse, in all of the places that both sides consider pivotal in 2020.
"It was never clear to me that the way you expand the map was by enormous turnout among young people," said Teixeira. "Other moving parts were just as important, if not more important."
That guy Teixeira may be onto something. But perhaps the most interesting part of Brownstein's article is where he makes the case the Krysten Sinema's successful campaign for a Senate seat in Arizona in 2018 could be a model for what Biden's trying to do.
"Democrat Kyrsten Sinema won a US Senate seat in Arizona that same year by moderating her earlier liberalism and running as a centrist who would build bridges across party lines. Like the other three Sun Belt Democrats, Sinema struggled among older working adults aged 50-64, according to the exit polls; but unlike them she carried a majority of seniors, which helped her squeeze out a narrow victory over Republican Martha McSally. Sinema carried 44% of whites older than 45, a measurable improvement on the other three.
One of the most striking aspects of Sinema's win was her victory in Maricopa County, centered on Phoenix. Maricopa was the largest county in the US that Trump won in 2016, but Noble's post-election analyses found that 88 precincts that backed the President in 2016 switched to Sinema two years later. Those included many suburban areas crowded with college-educated voters who broke from Trump nationwide. But when Noble and his team analyzed the Maricopa precincts that moved away from the GOP from 2016 to 2018, he found two retirement communities at the very top of the list: Sun City and Leisure World.
Noble says he believes that those seniors first pulled back from the GOP around its efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017. His latest statewide poll, which showed Biden leading overall, showed him besting Trump among voters older than 55.
That's catastrophic for Republicans in Arizona, he notes, since the heavy Latino presence in the younger population reliably tilts it toward the Democrats. (Sinema won three-fifths of voters younger than 45 in 2018.) If Biden can maintain an advantage with those older voters through November, Noble says, "it's smooth sailing" for him in the state, especially since Trump and the GOP are also eroding among younger college-educated suburbanites.
Sinema's path, though not as flashy as the approach embodied by Gillum, Abrams and O'Rourke, might be a model for Biden. Polls released over the past week by Fox News likewise found Biden leading with older voters in Pennsylvania and Michigan and tied with them in Florida; a Quinnipiac University survey in Florida showed Trump still leading among older working-age adults but Biden holding a double-digit lead among seniors. An average of all three University of Marquette Law School polls in Wisconsin this year similarly shows Trump trailing by 8 percentage points among voters 60 and older (who broke about evenly in the state last time)."
That's the Sinema--and now the Biden--formula. And it's kryptonite to Donald Trump.
The dominant assumption among Democrats for years has been that the best way to expand the Electoral College map is to expand the electorate by turning out millions of additional young people and minorities. But Joe Biden's campaign may be pointing Democrats toward a different path to widening the p...

The Return of Deficit Mania

OK, now that we've actually spent some real money to solve a real problem (even though that problem has not yet been solved), it must mean's time for the return of deficit mania! With the cornonavirus still stalking the land and the economy in free fall, the murmurings are starting to get louder about the alleged problems being created by (oh, the horror!) the rising deficit and national debt. Robbing our children, fiscally unsustainable, undermining long-term economic growth, blah, blah, blah.
We've heard it all before, most recently in 2011 when deficit mania took over the Beltway dialogue while we were still recovering from the Great Recession. Resulting cuts in government spending undercut the recovery for no good reason whatsoever, other than placating the deficit maniacs (the same sad story played out in Europe where the hounds of austerity crippled the European recovery). Let's not make that mistake again, when we're in an even more perilous situation.
Fortunately, Paul Krugman is on the case, sending out early warning flares on this rising--and completely unjustifiable--deficit mania. This time 'round, we need a united front against this nonsense, unlike in 2011 where all too many "responsible" people on the center-left capitulated to deficit mania pressure.
"Almost a decade has passed since I published a column, “Myths of Austerity,” warning that deficit alarmism would delay recovery from the Great Recession — which it did. Unfortunately, that kind of alarmism seems to be making a comeback.
You can see that comeback in the gradually increasing number of news analyses emphasizing how much debt we’ll run up dealing with the Covid-19 crisis. You can also see it in the rhetoric of politicians like Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, who is blocking aid to beleaguered state and local governments because, he says, it would cost too much.
So this seems like a good time to emphasize two key facts. One is economic: While we will run very big budget deficits over the next couple of years, they will do little if any harm. The other is that whatever they may say, very few prominent figures in politics or the media are genuine deficit hawks, who are actually worried about the consequences of rising government debt. What we mainly have, instead, are deficit peacocks and deficit vultures.
The term “deficit peacocks” was coined by the Center for American Progress for people who preen and posture about fighting deficits without offering realistic policy proposals. I’d broaden the term to include what I used to call Very Serious People — those who inveigh against the evils of debt not because they’ve done a careful analysis but because they imagine that it makes them sound earnest and tough-minded....
What about deficit vultures? That’s the term I’ve been using for politicians who exploit real or imagined fiscal distress to feed a reactionary policy agenda.
After the last crisis, conservatives used deficits as an excuse to cut social programs — for example, a number of states made it much harder to collect unemployment benefits. This time around, McConnell and Trump are trying to exploit deficit fears to force state governments to downsize, undermine (and possibly privatize) the post office and more....
The bottom line is that right now, the only thing we have to fear from deficits is deficit fear itself. Pay no attention to the peacocks and vultures: In this time of pandemic, we can and should spend whatever it takes to limit the damage."
The only fiscal thing to fear is deficit fear itself.

Monday, April 27, 2020

What If Biden Actually Does Do Better Among White Working Class Voters?

There are certainly ways Biden could win the 2020 election without doing better among white working class voters than Clinton did. It is possible. But the thing to remember is that, if Biden does in fact do better among this demographic in November, Trump's chances of winning are radically reduced--indeed, he become almost certain to lose.
That's why the trends we're seeing lately in the white noncollege vote are so important. From an article on Decision Desk HQ:
"[A]t this point in the Presidential race (April 2020) the polling is showing Biden making improvements with White Non-College voters nationally, and in key swing states.
From any analysis, it’s clear that the main demographic problem for the Democratic party is currently white working-class [voters]. While the Democratic party does well with minority voters, currently white working-class voters make up an overwhelming amount of the electorate in key swing states....While eventually Democratic strength with minority voters should theoretically give them an easy path to electoral college wins, that long term strength is meaningless as those future strong Democratic states (Georgia, Texas, Arizona) are still not in reach in a neutral environment, while those heavily white swing states become very hard to win when the Democratic candidate severely underperforms with White non-college voters....
While Clinton struggled to win White non-college heavy counties in the Primary against Sanders, once Super Tuesday happened Biden completely dominated those counties, nearly winning every similar county on Super Tuesday itself, but then winning all but a handful of counties after Super Tuesday....Additionally, at this point, the polling is showing a large swing towards Biden of White non-college voters nationally and in key swing states....
Of course, it is April of an election year, and the polls can always change. Perhaps those white non-college voters can be persuaded to come back to Trump in November, and are merely sitting on the sidelines because of the current crisis. Maybe Biden is riding a high from recent endorsements and winning the nomination, or has not gone through enough scrutiny yet, and his white non-college numbers could come down with the right mix of attack ads and messaging. It is too soon to know as there are still more than 6 months until November. At this point, only one thing is clear: Biden is doing better with white non-college voters than Hillary Clinton did, and if that trend continues until November, we won’t be missing much sleep on election night."
Exactly. And that is why you should pray to the god or gods of your choice that that trend does continue.
After the 2016, many different media narratives came from the (somewhat) unpredictable results of election night. Some people believed the Democrats lost because Clinton was deeply unpopular, and could not connect to average voters. Some people believed that Trump had unlocked a populist core in Ame...

Sunday, April 26, 2020

It's An Older Voter Thing, You Wouldn't Understand....

It's been widely observed that Biden is doing quite a bit better than Clinton among older voters (65+). Ron Brownstein:
"Biden led Trump among seniors comfortably in recent general election polling by CNN, Quinnipiac and NBC/WSJ and more narrowly in the latest Monmouth University poll. Though Pew and Grinnell College in recent polls still showed Trump leading with seniors, the overall direction of the surveys suggests that Biden might significantly improve on the Democrats' recent performance among older voters. Each Democratic presidential nominee since John Kerry in 2004 has lost seniors, a preponderantly white age cohort, by at least 5 percentage points, according to exit polls; Al Gore in 2000 was the last Democrat to carry them."
My analysis of the Nationscape survey (UCLA/Lucid//Democracy Fund Voter Study Group; over 70,000 cases since the beginning of the year) confirms this pattern. I find that Biden is leading Trump by 4 points on average among 65+ voters. That compares to Clinton's substantial deficits among this group in 2016, according to the two best data sources about the election, States of Change and Catalist. States of Change has Clinton at -15 among seniors, while Catalist makes it -14.
That's quite a large swing. Of course, many nervous Democrats fear Biden will lose those gains--if he even gets them--among younger voters. They fear a repeat of Clinton's poor performance among these voters in 2016.
But that's really a bit of a myth. The fact of the matter is that Clinton did about as well as Obama did among this group in 2012. That was not her problem. The Catalist data show the share of younger voters (18-29) identical (14 percent) across the two elections, while the Democratic margin was also essentially the same (+25 in 2016; +26 in 2012). The States of Change data show The States of Change data show youth voter share going up slightly from 15 percent in 2012 to 16 percent in 2016, with the youth turnout rate having the largest turnout increase of any age group. And the youth Democratic margin was identical across the two elections (+27).
Given what is happening with senior voters, it would take a catastrophic decline in Democratic margin among young voters to cancel that out. We're not seeing it so far. The Nationscape data have that margin at an average of 22 points; the recent Harvard/Institute of Politics survey specifically of young voters has Biden's margin at +23 among those registered to vote and +30 among those deemed likely to vote.
Given that the size of the senior vote should be around 24-25 percent of the electorate in 2020, compared to 14-16 percent among young voters, that's a trade-off you'll make every day. If it even winds up being a trade-off, about which I have my doubts.
Joe Biden is confronting a generational tightrope. As focus shifts to the general election, one important question for him is whether he can fortify his tentative standing with younger voters without weakening his sturdy position among the old.

Joe Biden, That Noted Bolshevik

I didn't want this Michelle Goldberg column to go by without comment. She makes the same case about Biden's relative progressivism that I have made many times, with some additional bolstering from my old friend Larry Mishel:
"Lawrence Mishel, a well-known labor economist, has been a critic of centrist Democrats for decades. “My adult lifetime has covered the Carter, Clinton and Obama years, and labor policy has never been a priority,” Mishel, the former president of the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank, told me. In the 2016 primary, he voted for Bernie Sanders. This year he supported Elizabeth Warren. (So did I.)
But when Mishel saw Joe Biden’s labor policy, he was thrilled. “I think that if you had asked me in 2016 whether we would ever see an agenda like this, this is beyond my hopes,” he said.
Biden’s proposals go far beyond his call for a $15 federal minimum wage — a demand some saw as radical when Sanders pushed it four years ago. While it’s illegal for companies to fire employees for trying to organize a union, the penalties are toothless. Biden proposes to make those penalties bite and to hold executives personally liable. He would follow California in cracking down on companies like Uber that misclassify full-time workers as independent contractors who aren’t entitled to benefits. He’d extend federal labor protections to farmworkers and domestic workers.
Mishel said that no Democratic nominee in his lifetime has presented “as robust and fleshed out a policy suite on labor standards and unions.”...
[S]hould Biden become president, progressives have the opportunity to make generational gains."
Ah but politicians never keep their promises, right? Wrong, oh so very wrong!
"[C]ontrary to conventional wisdom, most politicians attempt to keep their campaign promises. Writing in The Washington Monthly in 2012, the political scientist Jonathan Bernstein surveyed the research on campaign pledges. Presidents, he wrote, “usually try to enact the policies they advocate during the campaign. So if you want to know what Mitt Romney or the rest of the Republican crowd would do in 2013 if elected, the best way to find out is to listen to what they are saying right now."
Not only that (with the last word from my old pal Jared Bernstein):
"[I]t’s clear that he’s moving leftward. Biden recently came out for tuition-free college for students whose families earn less than $125,000. He endorsed Elizabeth Warren’s bankruptcy plan, something that would have been unimaginable in 2005, when Warren, then a Harvard law professor, charged onto the public stage to fight a regressive bankruptcy bill that Biden supported.
After long supporting the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for most abortions, Biden gave in to pro-choice pressure to come out against it. His climate plan already went beyond any of Barack Obama’s initiatives, and he’s pledged to make it even more robust. Biden’s health care proposal falls far short of single-payer, but it is, as Paul Waldman wrote in The Washington Post, “surprisingly liberal.”
It will be in Biden’s political interests to try to make good on these commitments. “I’ve worked with him for a while now,” said Jared Bernstein. “He really believes you achieve political success by either doing what you’ve promised to do or getting caught trying like hell.”
Sounds good to me!
Campaign promises matter, and his platform shows a distinct leftward drift.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Could Trump Lose His Electoral College Advantage?

I think it's fair to say that for Trump to win the election, he really needs to do better in battleground states than nationally, since he seems likely to lose the overall popular vote. Harry Enten has looked carefully at recent data and raises the possibility that Trump is losing that relative advantage in swing states.
Trump won the presidency in 2016 by winning the Electoral College while losing the popular vote. Previous polling has suggested that phenomenon could repeat itself in November: A lot of data suggested that Trump was, indeed, stronger in the battleground states than he was nationally.
But polling over the past month indicates his standing in those battleground states could be fading, bringing those numbers more in line with his national polling...
Florida: Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden led Trump by six points in a University of North Florida poll and four points in a Quinnipiac University poll. The previous polling average of probability polls had Biden up 2 points.
Michigan: Biden was up by eight points in a Fox News poll compared to the prior polling average of probability polls that had him up five points.
Pennsylvania: Biden held an eight-point advantage in a Fox News poll, while he was up just three points in the longer term probability polling average.
Wisconsin: Biden was ahead by three points in a Marquette University Law School poll. The longer term probability polling average had the race tied.
Now, we're just looking at four polls here, so I don't want to make too much of it. It is interesting, however, that Biden seems to be doing better than his longer term averages in this limited state polling data, while he is not doing the same in the national polling.
Biden's lead nationally in those polls has been consistently around six to or seven points, as it is now in those.
Could it be that Biden is eliminating Trump's relative advantage in the swing states compared to his national standing?
Take a look at recent national polls from ABC News/Washington Post, CNN/SSRS and two from Monmouth University. Thanks to the Roper Center archives we can drill down to the state level in these polls. Specifically, we can look at the 15 closest states in the 2016 election.
Over the last month, Biden was up by about two points more in these 15 states than he was nationally in these same polls. That's quite different from 2016 when Hillary Clinton did more than 3 points worse in these battlegrounds than nationally."
A very interesting pattern. Frankly, I'd like to see a lot more data along these lines before I'd be confident of this trend's staying power. But if it did stay, that would imply that even if Biden's national lead compresses he would be less likely to lose because of an electoral college-popular vote mismatch.
President Donald Trump's path to reelection was always going to hinge on his performance in a handful of swing states. That path looks more perilous for the President in a series of recent high-quality polls.