Saturday, May 30, 2020

On What Planet Does It Make Sense Not to Condemn Looting?

Not this one. Disappointingly, Democrats, including presumptive nominee Joe Biden, have had great difficulty with this. It should not be hard to condemn policy brutality, racism and looting at the same time. Not to do so makes no moral sense. Think of the working class people who actually live in these trashed neighborhoods. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
"People living in the working-class neighborhood around the epicenter of Wednesday night’s protests, police clashes and riots encountered a changed neighborhood when they ventured outside the next morning.
They saw the stores they relied on for groceries and supplies smashed and burned. They saw fires that had smoldered for hours. Onlookers clogged the streets to take pictures and help clean up the mess. Some loaded up carts with merchandise from Target, Dollar Tree and Cub Foods, which appeared devoid of workers after the Wednesday night crowds broke in.
“It’s very sudden to see how the neighborhood just changed in a period of three, four hours,” said Elizabeth Lopez, holding her 2-year-old daughter outside her home off Lake Street.
“It was a neighborhood that was building new buildings and everything, and then suddenly they were all on fire,” she said. “I don’t understand how peaceful protesting became like a nightmare for this neighborhood.”
Mohamed Abdi saw the chaos unfold from his apartment in the shopping center with Target and Cub Foods that was hit the hardest by the vandalism.
“I’m not safe, you’re not safe,” Abdi said. “I don’t know when the area will be safe again.”
Now that Cub Foods and Target are damaged, he doesn’t know where he’ll get his groceries. He vowed to keep an eye on the entrance to his apartment building for the rest of the day to try to ward off rioters.
“It’s very sad for everybody, for the residential people, the people who work in the area,” he added."
And it certainly makes no political sense. Yesterday I posted about the strong position Biden has taken in the swing states that will decide the 2020 election. But there are lots of ways this strong position can be undermined. Not condemning looting is one of them. Josh Kraushaar explains, using some of my recently published research with John Halpin:
"Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin, two senior fellows at the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, wrote one of the most trenchant political analyses in recent months. Using data from the in-depth Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape surveys designed to capture a nuanced portrait of the American electorate, the two scholars found that there’s a significant cohort of Trump-Biden voters emerging in this year’s election, a persuadable constituency large enough to tip the election.
While the notion of swing voters may sound alien in these partisan times, the analysis showed that nearly one-tenth of Trump voters from the last election are poised to switch sides. They’re a demographically diverse mix: Just one-third make up the popular Trumpian stereotype of working-class white voters, while one-third are white college graduates, and the remainder are nonwhite.
But the most important finding was the ideological makeup of these potential Trump defectors. They identified as economically progressive—supporting higher taxes for the wealthy, a higher minimum wage, and mandated paid family leave—but held markedly conservative positions on a wide array of social and cultural issues.
A whopping 78 percent of these swing voters felt that government should promote family values in society. Nearly two-thirds oppose efforts to ban all guns. And by huge margins, they are opposed to racial reparations and believe there are only two genders. Put simply, this isn’t a politically correct bunch.
It’s worth recalling this data in the wake of the riots and violence in Minneapolis this week, which occurred after a wrenching videotaped incident of police brutality against an unarmed African-American man, George Floyd. The episode brings to the political forefront a polarizing brew of issues surrounding civil rights and law enforcement.
Polls already show most Americans support the arrest of the offending officer, who was charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. While the issue has yet to be polled, I’d also expect most Americans would reject the notion that violence is the answer to injustice, and would recoil at the havoc across the country this week.
So I was surprised to see Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, fail to make even a pro forma exhortation against rioting in his heartfelt speech Friday when he called for police reforms and racial reconciliation.....
On my “Against the Grain” podcast this week, I asked Kamala Harris’s former presidential campaign spokesman Ian Sams whether Democrats risked facing a backlash for not condemning the riots. He disagreed. “The riots are obviously unfortunate, but are an outward manifestation of desperate anger that the system is failing large communities of people.....Sams approvingly cited the feedback from a Minneapolis business owner that he saw on television who said he was glad his business burned down. “He said ‘Let it burn’ because this is a point that needed to be made."
You gotta be kidding me. This is absolutely bonkers. Are these Democrats trying to lose? An honorable exception is Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms who said:
"What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is chaos,”
Bottoms for Veep? Get a grip here people. I'll close with this vignette:
"In north Minneapolis, James Clark was among the dozens who stood by as firefighters extinguished what was left of the Fade Factory, a small barbershop on W. Broadway that was fully engulfed. He is the father of Jamar Clark, the black man shot and killed during an encounter with police in 2015, whose death sparked weeks of protest and encampments outside the Fourth Precinct.
"It's not solving anything, it's not doing any good. It's just putting all these different communities in a bad position. They can't get food or prescription jobs," he said. "It don't make no sense."
Amen. And Democrats shouldn't be afraid to say so.
Most Americans are horrified by the videotaped episode of police brutality in Minneapolis. They also reject the notion that violence is the answer to injustice.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Swingin' Joe Biden!

Sabato's Crystal Ball has a very useful article up from Alan Abramowitz on how Biden is doing vs.Trump in 2016 swing states (defined as carried by either side by less than 6 points). The chart below is well worth the price of admission.
The key takeaway: "The data displayed in Table 1 show that, based on recent polling, Joe Biden is substantially outperforming both Hillary Clinton’s actual vote margin and her final polling margin in these 13 states. Biden is currently leading Trump in all 13 states by margins ranging from 0.3 points in Georgia to 17 points in Colorado. On average, Biden is running more than six points ahead of Clinton’s 2016 margin in the polls."
This suggests, as other analysts have argued, that Biden is probably running ahead of Trump by 8 points nationally, since Clinton won the popular vote by 2 points so 6 points ahead of that would be 8 points.
I thought it would be interesting to check the Abramowitz' poll of polls for these states against the Nationscape data. With 6000 cases a week, the cumulative data since the beginning of the year provides robust samples of respondents for even the small states. Here are the data for the Nationscape Biden margins in each state:
Arizona tie
Colorado +13
Florida +4
Georgia +5
Maine +3
Michigan +11
Minnesota +10
North Carolina tie
New Hampshire +9
Nevada +11
Pennsylvania +6
Virginia +16
A lot of similarity there, though Nationscape is more bullish on the Rustbelt states and less so or Arizona. And in a very pleasing fashion, the average Biden lead is 6.3 points, virtually identical with the Abramowitz' computer margin. This again suggest Biden is running 6 points ahead of Clinton in these states and probably about 8 points ahead nationally.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Biden Bolshevism Watch (2)

Is it that the left just can't take "yes" for an answer?
One has to wonder given the continued lack of enthusiasm for Biden in certain quarters. This is strange given that the left presumably stands for, well, left policies. And Biden's got 'em by the bushel, as Matt Yglesias lays out in an excellent, detailed article on Vox.
1. A big minimum wage increase
2. Free college for most
3. Enhancing the Affordable Care Act
4. Dramatic transformation of federal housing policy
5. A huge financial boost to schools with low-income students
6. A labor-friendly climate agenda
7. Major commitments on union organizing
8. Back to the future on immigration
As Yglesias points out, this adds up to a lot. And how far Biden gets with it if elected will have less to do with any lack of ambition and more to do with the Congress he has to work with. The logical course, therefore is to back Biden to the hilt, work hard to deliver him the Congress he'll need and be prepared to put pressure on him to stick with the commitments he has already made.
Or is it really the case that the left can't take "yes" for answer? Between now and November, we'll find out.
"Biden is a mainstream Democrat, and as the Democratic Party has grown broadly more progressive in recent years, he is now running on arguably the most progressive policy platform of any Democratic nominee in history.
It’s a detailed and aggressive agenda that includes doubling the minimum wage and tripling funding for schools with low-income students. He is proposing the most sweeping overhaul of immigration policy in a generation, the biggest pro-union push in three generations, and the most ambitious environmental agenda of all time.
If Democrats take back the Senate in the fall, Biden could make his agenda happen. A primary is about airing disagreements, but legislating is about building consensus. The Democratic Party largely agrees on a suite of big policy changes that would improve the lives of millions of Americans in meaningful ways. Biden has detailed, considered plans to put much of this agenda in place. But getting these plans done will be driven much more by the outcome of the congressional elections than his questioned ambition."
Not a joke, folks: He’s running on a transformative policy agenda.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

t's an Older Voter Thing, You Wouldn't Understand (2)

Rob Griffin and John Sides have a very good article up on the Monkey Cage blog where they describe in detail Biden's current relative over-performance among older voters and what a pickle this puts Trump in. They are using the Nationscape data, 6,000 interviews a week, which I have referenced many times.
As for why this is, they basically wind up saying: "Beats us!" though they are pretty sure it isn't just a reaction to the coronavirus crisis and Trump's dreadful handling thereof.
Herewith, my own analysis of the Nationscape data since the beginning of the year for the 65+ age group, nationally and for selected states, with comparisons to the States of Change data from 2016.
National: Biden +6, Clinton -15
Florida Biden -6, Clinton -20
Georgia Biden -2, Clinton -27
Iowa Biden -11, Clinton -24
Michigan Biden +20, Clinton -9
North Carolina Biden -17, Clinton -21
Ohio Biden -2, Clinton -21
Pennsylvania Biden +4, Clinton -16
Wisconsin Biden +12, Clinton -16
Biden’s appeal to seniors has “flattened” a different kind of curve.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Can the Democrats go 8 for 8 and 4 for 4 in the Southwest?

The Democrats have not controlled all 8 Senate seats in the Southwest states of AZ, CO, NM and NV since 1941. And the Democrats have not carried all four of these states in a Presidential election since 1948. This year, the Democrats could quite plausibly accomplish both of these feats--something the Democrats have not accomplished together since 1936. Ron Brownstein makes the case here, a case which accords with my own reading of the polls and trends and, at the Presidential level, is consistent with the data rolling in from the massive Nationscape survey. I'll have more to say about this down the line.
And then there's this:
"The scariest prospect for Republicans is that everything said ...about Arizona and Colorado in particular could also apply to Texas, the foundation stone of the GOP's national political strength. From Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin down south through Houston and San Antonio, the four metropolitan areas in what's called the Texas triangle account for just over two-thirds of the state's votes and jobs and more than three-fourths of its economic output.
All of them rank among America's 10 fastest-growing cities, according to the census. (All are also big recipients of transplants from California, which sent over 86,000 migrants to Texas just in 2018.) And as they grow, they are shading more blue: In his narrow 2018 defeat, the Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke won the five counties encompassing those cities by nearly 800,000 votes, roughly six times then-President Barack Obama's combined margin just six years earlier.
Like other observers, [Brookings Mountain West head Robert] Lang says that for now, the massive GOP advantage in Texas' rural areas should allow Trump to hold it in 2020 (albeit likely by a much smaller margin than his 9-percentage-point victory last time). Republican Sen. John Cornyn also looks tough to beat. But in both parties, many agree that the shift away from the GOP in the large metropolitan areas driving the state's population growth have placed Texas on the same political moving walkway as Colorado, Nevada and Arizona, only a few steps behind."
For what it's worth, the Nationscape data since the beginning of the year has Trump only up by a single point in Texas!
In a critical mark of the shifting political landscape, Democrats in November could secure a clean sweep of the Senate seats from the four key Southwestern states -- a milestone the party hasn't reached in nearly 80 years.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Biden Bolshevism Watch

It's really very simple: If elected, Biden will govern from the center of the Democratic party. And the center has moved left.
"[I]f Biden is elected in November, the left may get a presidency it likes after all — or at least one it hates less than anticipated. The coronavirus outbreak and the resulting massive surge in unemployment has moved American political discourse to the left: Ideas that would have been considered too liberal for most Democrats a few months ago are now being proposed by Republicans. And if American politics is moving left, expect Biden to do the same. Biden was often cast as a centrist or a moderate during the Democratic primaries, but those labels don’t really describe his politics that well — he doesn’t really seem to have any kind of set ideology at all.
Instead, Biden’s long record in public office suggests that he is fairly flexible on policy — shifting his positions to whatever is in the mainstream of the Democratic Party at a given moment. So if Biden wins the presidency and his fellow Democrats are still clamoring for more government spending to help the pandemic recovery, Biden is likely to be a fairly liberal president, no matter how moderate he sounded in the primaries....
It’s hard to measure the precise center of American politics and how it has changed over the last few months. But it’s certainly moved left in response to the COVID-19 crisis — toward way more federal spending....Mirroring the shift in his party, Biden and his advisers are now reimagining his candidacy and presidency — rolling out more liberal policy plans, speaking in increasingly populist terms and joining forces with the most progressive voices in the party. Biden himself has invoked the idea that he might be entering the Oval Office facing a crisis on the scale of the Great Depression."
Six weeks ago, when Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race, it seemed like the Democratic Party’s left wing suffered a major and potentially l…

Sunday, May 24, 2020

But 2016! Clinton Was Ahead Too!

It is true that Clinton polled mostly ahead of Trump in the 2016 election campaign, yet still lost the election. It is also true that Biden, while ahead of Trump in the polls today, could still lose to Trump this year even if he stays ahead in the polls all the way to election day.
But it is not true that Biden is in exactly the same situation as Clinton was in 2016. No, his situation is better and here's why as explained by Harry Enten.
"Almost any time I explain that Biden's leading Trump, someone will inevitably bring up "but what about 2016." That's why this week marks an important milestone for the Biden campaign.
It's one of the first times during the election year that Biden was clearly running ahead of Hillary Clinton's 2016 pace in the matchup against Trump.
Four years ago, Trump closed the national gap quickly with Clinton as he was vanquishing Republican rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich from the presidential race. Clinton's average lead shrank from 10 points during the first half of April to 6 points in the second half in April to 4 points in the first half in May to a mere 1 point in polls completed four years ago between May 16-May 23....
Although Clinton would regain some of her advantage in June 2016, the fact that the race became so close at this point four years ago was an indication that the electorate was somewhat unsettled. It showed that under the right circumstances, Clinton could lose nationally, or, at the very least, that Trump could come close enough nationally to win in the electoral college....
Biden's lead, of course, is the steadiest of all time. His lead has never fallen to just a point or anywhere close. It's been consistently at or right around 6 points, as it was this week. If you were to create a 95% confidence interval around the individual 2016 and 2020 polls, the 2016 race was about 1.5 times as volatile up to this point.
But it's not just the margin that is important to examine. Look at the vote percentages.
The reason Biden's lead is so wide compared to Clinton's is that he's running a little more than 5 points ahead of where Clinton was in terms of vote percentage. Biden is at slightly greater than 48%, while Clinton was a little less than 43%.
Even when Clinton's lead widened in June, she never got to 48% in the polls. She had to pick up a lot more late-deciding voters for her lead to feel secure than Biden will likely need to."
2020 is not 2016. Biden is not Clinton. And the differences between the two situations and candidates mostly help the Democrats. This is worth keeping in mind the next time you hear "But 2016!"
Poll of the week: A new national Fox News poll finds former Vice President Joe Biden with a 48% to 40% lead over President Donald Trump.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Trump's Swing State Blues

Below I show the results (for the 20 most competitive states) of G. Elliott Morris' "toy model" that integrates national and state polling with some regression analysis to give an idea of how the election is shaping up in each state in the country.
As you can see, the model implies that Trump is in deep trouble, behind in enough states to give Biden an easy win with other states like GA, OH, IA and TX either tied or very close.
Evan Scrimshaw of Decision Desk HQ reviews the latest data and sees the same kind of electoral landscape. His assessment of Trump's troubles vis a vis Biden I largely agree with and I'll quote it here.
"The Democrats have the upper hand across enough states to comfortably win the Electoral College, and the Midwest would be back to Obama 2012 levels of relative partisanship. For Joe Biden to be able to pull this off is a testament to his specific popularity with voters who don’t have a degree, and a sign that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was a specific turnoff for those voters who populate the legion of counties and Congressional Districts that flipped from Obama to Trump. It makes sense why that would be, too – her campaign was frequently about social issues which mattered to young progressives but not to the overwhelmingly older constituency who don’t have degrees. Biden, in contrast, is running a tight ship where he says little and doesn’t allow himself to take too many questions where troubling issues can come up. As of now, it’s working, with Quinnipiac polling this week showing Biden up 10% with seniors and 11% Nationally. For Trump, those numbers need to start reversing fast.
If Trump can’t eat into Biden’s lead with older voters and can’t stretch his non-college white lead back to Clinton levels, it’s over. Older people vote, and the suburban voters who broke for Trump in 2016 because they disliked both candidates aren’t coming back. Trump was able to squeeze out his narrow win because he got more Obama-Trump voters in exurbia than Hillary got Romney-Clinton voters in suburbia, and right now that trick isn’t repeating itself. He’s bleeding Obama-Trump voters back to Biden while the slow march of Romney voters in the suburbs continues unabated.
The President is now more than one usual polling error away from re-election, meaning he needs to do some work just to get back to the 30-70 underdog Nate Silver had him at in 2016. Even if the LeanTossup Presidential Model is aggressive in some states, namely Texas and Georgia, Trump is still in a very real mess in the upper Midwest, North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona. It’s hard to see the strategy that can flip back suburban Maricopa County, Arizona while not costing the President his huge margins in rural Wisconsin or southwest Pennsylvania. If he goes in on the culture wars, he may claw back non-degree holders with socially conservative views in some areas, but that won’t solve the problems in the suburbs of Phoenix and Atlanta. Go in on a tax cut for the well off and you give up a lot of your claim to be a different Republican who cares for real America."