Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Expanding Electoral Map

Cook Political Report, which tends to be fairly conservative in its assessments and which started this cycle classifying both Iowa and Ohio as "likely Republican" has moved both states to "toss up". That reflects a continuing spate of good polls for Biden in these two states (not to mention the increasing likelihood that Democrat Theresa Greenfield can unseat Joni Ernst in the IA Senate race). That makes the already good electoral map for Biden even stronger. As Amy Walter' article on the new ratings notes:
"Iowa and Ohio join Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Maine's 2nd CD in Toss Up. That leaves just one state, Texas, in Lean Republican. Biden is in the enviable position of not having to win any of those states to get to 270, while Trump has to win all of them, plus another two states (22 Electoral votes) to win the Electoral College."
Speaking of Ohio, I recommend John Russo's article on the state in The American Prospect. Russo, a longtime and very astute observer of the state's politics goes the Cook Political Report one better and flat out predicts that Biden will carry the state. His reasoning:
"This year, I am predicting that Trump will lose in Ohio....The [reason] lies in changing demographics, Trump’s failures, the shifting views of some evangelicals, and problems in the Ohio Republican Party.
Even before the 2018 election, I sensed that the Trump fever was breaking, especially in the Youngstown area—what some have called Trump’s “ground zero.” Talking with Youngstown residents, especially working-class voters, I heard rumblings of disappointment and doubt. Trump fever was being doused by a wave of closings, which included a major hospital, the local newspaper, and GM’s Lordstown factory. Trump had told local residents that their economy would get stronger under his leadership, but he had failed to keep those promises or even to offer substantive help as the local economy reeled from these losses. Add the human and economic costs of the pandemic to the state’s already changing demographics and economic struggles, and it’s easy to see why Trump’s support is at risk.
Demographics might not be political destiny, but changes in Ohio’s population seem likely to help Democrats this year. Ohio has long been older, whiter, and more working-class than most other states. According to political analysts Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin, in 2016, white working-class voters made up 55 percent of Ohio voters, but their numbers have since declined to 53 percent. Trump won 63 percent of white working-class votes four years ago, but many are now turning away from him, particularly women and seniors.
As the white working-class share of voters has declined, Ohio has become younger, better educated, more racially and ethnically diverse, and more liberal. According to the Ohio Voter Contact Services, there are 912,000 new registered voters since 2016. Ohio political consultant Jerry Austin believes that more than 250,000 young voters will be voting for the first time and most are likely to vote Democratic. As Amy Walter notes in the Cook Political Report, demographic changes together with the president’s low job approval rating in Ohio should make Republicans “worried” about Trump’s growing weakness in the state.
Compounding these demographic changes have been the declining socioeconomic conditions in Ohio. The Trump tax cuts did not lead to substantial job growth and rising wages. Although the national economy had strengthened modestly in recent years—until the pandemic—growth in wages and jobs has been slower in Ohio. A study issued just this week from the Century Foundation, Policy Matters Ohio, and the Groundwork Collaborative documents that while the number of manufacturing jobs has increased (by less than 1 percent) nationally during Trump’s term, in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, they’ve actually declined. Poverty rates are also up in both urban and, more recently, suburban parts of the state. Some rural areas have seen “unprecedented” unemployment, even as Republicans brag that the economy is booming in Ohio."
Let's hope Russo is right! He makes a plausible case that is well worth considering.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Trump's Pennsylvania Death March Continues

The most recent high-quality PA polls, Washington Post-ABC and New York Times/Sienna both have Trump behind by 9 points in the states.
The key: (from Aaron Blake of the Post)
Trump’s erosion is...particularly pronounced among White Americans with college degrees....Biden [in Pennsylvania] now leads by 23 points in the Post-ABC poll (61 to 38) and by 26 points in the NYT-Siena poll (59 to 33).
But it’s not just among college-educated Whites; it’s also among noncollege-educated Whites. Although Trump carried them by 32 points in 2016 (64 to 32), he currently leads by 13 in the NYT-Siena poll (52 to 39) and 17 in the Post-ABC poll (58 to 41)."
Martin Longman of the Washington Monthly adds:
"Trump is severely underperforming in Western Pennsylvania, the region I pegged as most responsible for his surprise victory in my Washington Monthly piece How to Win Rural Voters Without Losing Liberal Values. Excluding Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County, Trump carried this region four years ago by 29 points. The Washington Post-ABC poll has him leading there by three."
The death march continues.

Just Shut Up, Man

What can you say about a debate where that was the line of the night? Not much. It's difficult to believe that the debate will do much for Trump in terms of closing the gap with Biden. Probably the reverse. The instant polls for what they're worth:
A CBS News instant poll finds 48% think Joe Biden won tonight’s debate, 41% think Donald Trump won and 10% think it was a tie.
A CNN instant poll finds Biden won, 60% to 28%.
David Frum thinks Trump did have a theory of the debate but that it was all wrong:
"President Trump arrived at the first debate with a theory and a plan. The theory was that American voters crave dominance, no matter how belligerent or offensive. The plan was to hector, interrupt, and insult in hope of establishing that dominance.
His theory was wrong and his plan was counter-productive.
Trump walked onto that stage in Cleveland 7 or 8 points behind, because the traditional Republican advantage among upper-income and educated voters has dwindled, because non-college white women have turned against him, because he is losing older voters to his mishandling of COVID-19, because the groups he needs to be demobilized—African Americans, the young—are up-mobilized. On the present trajectory, nearly 150 million votes are likely to be cast in 2020. If Trump wins 43 percent of them and Biden 50 percent, not even the Electoral College can convert that negative margin into a second Trump term.
He needed to do something to change that reality.
Instead, he talked to Facebook conspiracists, to the angriest of ultra-Republican partisans, and to violent white supremacists. He urged the Proud Boys to “stand by” because “somebody’s got to do something” about “antifa and the left.” He refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the (likely) event that he loses. He threatened months and months of chaos if the election does not go his way.
Trump yelled, threatened, interrupted—and changed nothing. All he did was confirm the horror and revulsion of the large American majority that has already begun to cast its ballots against him."
That seems about right to me.
Josh Marshall's take is similar:
"I worried what this momentous night would bring. In the event I think it was somewhere between bad and disastrous for President Trump.
The most important fact about this debate is that going into it President Trump was clearly behind. He needed to shift the dynamic of the race, force some major error, introduce some new factor. That didn’t happen. I saw nothing tonight that seems at all likely to improve things for President Trump. Nothing.
Biden did fine. Not great. But fine. I’d say he had a B performance with some B+ or even A- minus moments. But for him that’s fine. He’s ahead. He’s not running as best debater. He’s not running as most dynamic figure. He’s not competing for most unstable affect. He’s running as the guy who will end the nightmare. If that’s the goal he turned in just the right performance.....
There are definitely people who think Biden didn’t seem strong enough reacting to or containing Trump’s tirades. Basically I don’t think this is right. Clearly Biden isn’t really quite able to keep up with Trump’s antics. I don’t say that because of age. It’s just characterologically beyond him, for better or worse. But Biden’s not running for arguer. He held his own and simply showed himself to be a very different kind of person, a very different kind of potential President. That’s a win for him."
Again, seems about right to me. It'll be interesting to watch the polls in the next few days to see what effect, if any, the debate has on the race.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Pennsylvania: Ground Zero of the 2020 Campaign

Pennsylvania is widely believed to be the "tipping point" state of the 2020 election, including by the Trump campaign apparently. Right now, the 538 rolling average has Biden ahead by around 5 in the state, pushing 50 percent support, and their model gives him a 3 in 4 chance of taking the state. The latest high quality poll in PA (Fox, Biden +7) shows Trump's difficulties and Biden's potential winning formula in the state.
* Biden's 8 point margin among white college graduates is running slightly ahead of Clinton's 2016 support.
* Biden's 17 point deficit among white noncollege voters is 15 points less than Clinton's in 2016.
* Biden's 74 point advantage among nonwhites (who are dominated by black voters) is essentially identical with Clinton's margin in 2016.
These data make clear the contours of Trump's challenge in the states. No wonder he's spending so much time there.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Don't Forget About State Legislative Elections!

With all the (justified) fuss about the Presidential and Senate elections, it's easy to forget about state legislative elections. But they're important and will have a lot to do with how the 2020's go for Democrats. Once again, the good folks at Daily Kos Elections have all the data on what's going on with these races. They also report that Democrats are doing an excellent job challenging the GOP for seats. If you've got any spare $$ lying around, send it to a worthy Democratic state legislative challenger somewhere!

The Bluing of the Buckeye State?

Ohio hasn't perhaps gotten as much attention as it deserves this cycle. That's a little odd because it is very much in play--indeed, more so than GA and TX about which one hears much more. Right now, Biden is running a 1 point lead in the 538 polling average for the state and their model very slightly favors Biden (52 percent) to take the state. In contrast, the 538 averages have Biden behind by a point in GA and 2 points in TX and their model currently favors Biden in neither state.
How's Biden doing so well in OH? In my Path to 270 in 2020 report with John Halpin we remarked on how the Democrats might be able to take back OH:
"For the Democratic candidate, even increasing Black turnout and support back to their strong levels in 2012 (they both declined significantly in 2016) would still leave them with a 4-point deficit in the state. The most efficacious change for the Democrats would be to cut Trump’s advantage with white non-college voters, concentrating on white non-college women, where Democrats’ deficit in 2016 was 30 points less than among men. Shaving 10 margin points off of Trump’s advantage among white non-college voters would, by itself, bring the Democratic candidate within 2 points in the state, and replicating Obama’s 2012 performance among this demographic in the state would allow them to actually carry the state, all else from 2016 remaining the same.
In all likelihood, a combination of these changes, at different levels, would be necessary for the Democrats to prevail. Trump, in a sense, just needs to hold serve."
So, how's Biden doing by these metrics? Cue the data! The two most recent OH polls are Fox and Quinnipiac.
In the Fox poll (Biden +5), Biden is carrying white college graduates by 7 (an 8 point swing in the Democrats' favor) and white noncollege voters by 18 points (a 15 point pro-Democratic swing).
In the Quinnipiac poll (Biden +1), Biden is carrying white college graduates by 13 (a 14 point swing) and losing white noncollege voters by 19 (also a 14 point swing). And he is carrying black voters by 85 points, actually 5 points better than Clinton did in 2016.
Check again!
So let's hear it for the great state of Ohio! May the bluing last through election day.
For a very detailed geographic analysis of political dynamics, I recommend the Crystal Ball piece by Kyle Kondik on the state. Excellent.
States of Play: Ohio – Sabato's Crystal Ball
States of Play: Ohio – Sabato's Crystal Ball
States of Play: Ohio After Trump maxed out the Buckeye State’s rural areas and small town areas, can Biden max out the suburbs? By Kyle KondikIn: 2020 PresidentPosted September 24, 2020 Dear Readers: Today at 2 p.m. eastern, we’ll be devoting our new episode of our Sabato’s Crystal Ball: Ameri...

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Election Check-In: 538 and Economist Data

538 probability Biden victory: 77 percent

Economist probability Biden victory: 85 percent

538 probability Dem Senate: 62 percent

Economist probability Dem Senate: 67 percent
States Democrats favored to win (538): MI (currently +7 points in poll average), WI (+7), PA (+5), AZ (+4), FL (+2), NC (+1), OH (+1)
States Democrats favored to win (Economist): all as above except OH
States that are close but where Biden is not currently ahead (538): GA (-1), IA (-1), TX (-2)
Decent data for Team Blue I'd have to say.