Monday, October 19, 2020

America’s Electoral Future: The Coming Generational Transformation

It's out! The new States of Change report on the potential effects of generational change on future elections. And they're huge! This should put a smile on your face.
"In this report, we show that incorporating generational cohorts into one’s analysis has a potentially substantial impact on the political landscape of future elections. We do this using four scenarios:
* No generational effects. This simulation assumes voting and turnout patterns from the 2016 presidential race remain the same in future elections for all demographic groups defined by race, age, education, gender and state. The only thing that changes is the size of these various groups among eligible voters. Such a scenario takes no account of the changing generational composition of the electorate and serves as a baseline for judging the impact of incorporating generational preferences.
* Full generational effects. This simulation assumes that generational political preferences will remain the same in future elections. Put simply, instead of assuming that younger voters vote exactly like older groups as they age, this scenario assumes that each generational cohort will continue to vote in future elections like they did in the 2016 presidential election. Like the first scenario, this scenario also accounts for changes in the underlying composition of the electorate by race, education, gender, and state. Age-related turnout rates for various groups are held constant at the levels assumed in the age-based simulation.
* Generation effects decline with age. This simulation assumes that generational political preferences will carry forward into future elections, as in the second simulation, but also assumes that generations will become more conservative as they age. Like the first two scenario, this scenario also accounts for changes in the underlying composition of the electorate and holds the age-related turnout rates of groups constant over time.
* Post-Millennial generations more conservative. This simulation assumes that generational political preferences will fully carry forward into future elections but assumes that Gen Z and the as-yet unnamed generation following them will be more conservative than the Millennial generation. As in our other scenarios, this scenario also accounts for changes in the underlying composition of electorate and holds the age-related turnout rates for various groups constant going forward into future elections.
There are two key findings from these scenarios.
First, the underlying demographic changes our country is likely to experience over the next several elections generally favor the Democratic party. The projected growth of groups by race, age, education, gender and state tends to be more robust among Democratic-leaning groups, creating a consistent and growing headwind for the Republican party. This will require the GOP to improve their performance among key demographic groups, election after election, just to keep their vote share competitive as illustrated by our first, age-based simulation that includes no generational effects. That simulation finds Michigan and Pennsylvania moving Democratic in 2020, with later elections in the 2020s adding Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia, and North Carolina to the Democratic column.
Second, incorporating generational cohorts into this analysis dramatically accelerates the rate at which America’s political terrain could potentially shift, as shown by our second, generation-based, scenario. That scenario finds Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and Arizona moving Democratic in 2020, with later elections in the decade adding Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and Ohio to the Democratic tally.
Even under scenarios where cohorts grow more conservative as they age or younger generations are substantially more conservative, these changes are still far faster than with simulations that consider only age groups and ignore the way generational changes can reshape the electorate."
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Saturday, October 17, 2020

Seniors to Trump: Drop Dead!

Morning Consult has released a huge trove of data on the senior vote....and it's pretty dire news for Trump. There are huge shifts against him, particularly in the Rustbelt. Morning Consult is not the best pollster, but it's not the worst either. Anyway, their results are consistent with data I have access to from Nationscape as well as the general run of public polls. Paraphrasing Bob Dylan:
Come pollsters and pundits
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your grandpas and your grandmas
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'

It's Fall and a Lad's or Lass' Mind Turns to Thoughts of.....Forecasts Of Course!

Getting tired of checking out the 538 and Economist models all the damn time? In your defense, the models are continuously updated so it's always possible they'll be something new (though usually there isn't). So why not relax with Election Forecasting Classic, the grand political science tradition of predicting election outcomes with a sparse set of variables, typically fairly far in advance of the election and not updated very often if at all. The good folks at the APSA popular political science magazine PS have rounded up a whole passel of academics that each have a model based on their favorite variables and are making their analyses available to all the honest workers and peasants of America. It's a beautiful thing.
Below, I reproduce the key summary tables of the results and provide a link to access the full range of articles on the models. Alan Abramowitz' model is there, previously flagged in these pages, as well as many others. And there is the impressively weird Helmut Norpoth model, based on primary results, which gives Trump a 91 percent chance of winning and predicts he will gain 362 electoral votes (!) Seems kind of implausible. But if he's right......he'll look like a genius!
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Friday, October 16, 2020

America's Electoral Future: The Coming Generational Transformation

You're invited! Please register at the link below to attend this smokin', data-rich event. The basic shtick:
The generational makeup of the United States will change dramatically in the future, a shift that will have potentially profound effects in future elections, according to a new States of Change report published today by demographic experts from the Center for American Progress, the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Brookings Institution, and the Democracy Fund’s Voter Study Group. For six years in a row, CAP, Brookings, BPC, and other organizations have collaborated on States of Change, a project that documents and analyzes the challenges to democracy posed by the rapid demographic evolution of the United States from the 1970s to 2060.
This year’s States of Change report explores how demographic changes could shape the next five presidential elections using national and state projections. The authors looked at race, age, education, gender, and generation, using a new set of projections for the nation and all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, based on Census data. They focused on what those projections imply for the presidential elections between 2020 and 2036 under different assumptions about future turnout and voter preference patterns by these demographics, with a particularly close look at generational change.
“In our report, we calculated the potentially game-changing effects of generational change in the electorate,” says Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at CAP and co-author of the analysis. “Generational change—working in tandem with other underlying changes by race and education—has the potential to create much stronger headwinds for future GOP candidates than we have found in our previous research.”

The Five Deadly Sins of the Left (Short Course)

Nick Ottens of the European site, Atlantic Sentinel, covers my American Compass essay and in the process does a nice job of summarizing the five sins, as below. He has a number of other interesting things to say, though I can't say I'm with him on his apparent veneration for Emmanuel Macron...
"1. Identity politics: The obsession with grouping voters into a hierarchy of oppression based on innate characteristics, which casts low-income, low-information white voters — once the backbone of the social democratic coalition — in the role of oppressors and berates them when they are not up-to-date with the latest social-justice lingo. (Example: Amy Coney Barrett’s use of the phrase “sexual preference” rather than “sexual orientation” is taken as proof that the conservative Supreme Court justice candidate is secretly anti-gay.)
2. Retro-socialism: Mistaking the public’s discontent with the outcomes of the prevailing economic order for a desire to abandon capitalism entirely. This sets the bar high for public embrace of what would otherwise be popular policy ideas, from public health insurance to free college to a job guarantee.
3. Catastrophism: Extending systemic critiques of capitalism and climate policy to claims that the end is nigh and only a sharp turn to the left can save the world. Voters don’t respond well to threats.
4. Growthphobia: Tied to climate change, but also the left’s obsession with inequality. Voters don’t object to growth. They object to the benefits of growth accumulating at the top. Voters want abundance, not societally-mandated scarcity. High growth makes people more generous and tolerant and would ease the transition to a green economy.
5. Technopessimism: The left used to argue for appliances, a car and a television set for every family. Now it is more likely to see technology as the destroyer of jobs and the enabler of misinformation.
The unifying thread is moral certitude or purism: my way or the highway. The left is not alone in thinking in black-and-white terms. So does the far right. This doesn’t persuade voters in the middle and makes it harder for parties and politicians to compromise."

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Joe Biden, Mainstream Revolutionary

EJ Dionne has an excellent column out about the Biden paradox--running as a moderate but espousing a very progressive, in some ways radical, program.
"Joe Biden may be running a safe and centrist campaign, but beneath the methodical calm is a genuinely innovative ideological appeal. The former vice president is updating and bringing back the long-dormant Democratic tradition of labor liberalism.
He is doing so rhetorically and with union hall visits, but also through an agenda that seeks to spark economic growth through substantial public investments. He would build infrastructure, fight climate change, raise wages, guarantee health insurance coverage and expand child-care and pre-K programs.
And he is creating the sort of multiracial electoral coalition that has always been the only workable path to progressive governance."
This is a very important point. A Biden administration may ultimately fall short under predictable pressures but the coalition he is bringing into being and the tradition he is reviving is really the only way that progressive governance at scale even has a chance. In other words, much of what bothers left critics about Biden's approach and that of his campaign is a feature not a bug. It's the way to power and meaningful change, even if it does not guarantee it.
More Dionne:
"Understanding how the pieces of Biden’s strategy interact is the best way to square two seemingly contradictory facts: That Biden is running as a moderate, and that he has put forward the most progressive platform a Democrat has offered in years.
Biden is indeed a moderate to his bones and prides himself on working with Republicans. He knows that President Trump’s irresponsible and divisive presidency is encouraging relatively conservative voters to break ranks and back a Democrat — often, for the first time in their lives.
At the same time, he and his advisers recognize that rising economic inequality, the decline in well-paying manufacturing jobs, the weakening of unions and growing regional disparities require robust government intervention to create a more just form of capitalism. They also see how economic and racial injustices aggravate each other.
What allows Biden to be both a moderate and an economic reformer is that it is no longer radical to acknowledge the high costs of inequality, and Biden’s objectives are thoroughly mainstream."
Exactly. Joe Biden, mainstream revolutionary.
Opinion | How Joe Biden — yes, Joe Biden — could revolutionize American politics

 

Government Of, By and For the Elite

American Compass did a podcast with JD Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy and Chris Arnade, author of Dignity, discussing my piece on the Left's deadly sins along with its companion piece by Henry Olsen on the deadly sins of the right. It's really quite good and I strongly recommend it. By no means do I agree with all of what Vance and Arnade have to say about my article and Olsen's but I did find their remarks thoughtful and stimulating. I think you will too.
There is a partial transcript as well as the audio.
Chris Arnade
The way I see the difference between the Left and Right is encompassed by the two different books that J.D. and I wrote, or at least the cartoonish criticism of our books. People would look at J.D.’s book [Hillbilly Elegy] and say, “It embraces the Right because it gives the poor people, especially, too much agency. They’re responsible for their mistakes.” Then they look at my book [Dignity] and they say, “Well, you deny agency. You make everybody a victim who isn’t responsible for their own fault.”
I think that is what filters down to voters politically: “The Right blames me for my problems, and the Left treats me like a kid and says I’m not responsible for any of my behavior.” More and more since writing the book, that’s how I see the political camps being divided, is how they treat poor people or how they treat the voters. Do they treat them like children that have to be condescended to, who have no agency and are just victims of our elite problems who need to be helped? Or are they people who are weak and need to just buck up and work harder?
Oren Cass:
That’s interesting. If you think about where a lot of the mainstream economic policy on the Left has been then, as you said, it’s in some ways indecipherable from the mainstream Right-of-center economic policy. And then part of Teixeira’s point is that when you look at what reformers on the Left advocate, they are not reformers in the direction of actually solving the problems that a lot of people would describe. They are reformers in a different and more radical and less responsive direction.
Chris, do you feel as you look across both parties is there anywhere that you’d say that someone’s getting it right, and they really do have a finger on the pulse of either understanding what people feel like are the most serious problems or having an agenda that might address them effectively?
Chris Arnade:
I’ll get yelled at for this, but I think to some degree, Trump did early on in late ’15, early ’16, in the early larval stage of his candidacy. I always say that I still think the missing quadrant is the economically liberal, socially conservative quadrant. Trump got pushed there by being anti-Jeb. He was running against the DC consensus, which pushed him that direction. Sanders gets there at times, on economics.
My biggest criticism of both the Left and Right, and the essays got at this in some sense, is I just don’t think the political donor base of either party knows the people they’re advocating for. Let’s take the Left’s idea of identity politics. What frustrates me about the whole conversation is that I think most Americans of all races support the broad goals of identity politics. They support the strategy, not the tactics, meaning the way that it’s framed, the militant, aggressive language that is used. Most people I’ve met across America are pretty open-minded and understanding and can get there, given the time. The problem is the framework feels like it’s being pushed on them in a condescending manner that causes a reaction to push back.
The broad public is a lot more tolerant than it’s given credit for, but the politics doesn’t understand that. The Left talks down to people. All these conversations feel like grad school seminars, arguing about people who aren’t there. I think the sins of both parties are reflective of that. The Left talks down to people, and the Right just tells them to do better.
Oren Cass:
J.D., jump in on the point about the parties not understanding who they’re advocating for. You’ve highlighted the difference between what Trump ran on and how he then governed and is now running. What happened? How do you explain the forces on the right-of-center that have been at play here?
J.D. Vance:
The problem that the Trump administration has revealed on the Right is not that Republican voters are bad or unwilling to think about new solutions to problems. It’s certainly not, as the Left likes to say, that Republican voters are racist. It’s interesting that the identity politics point that Teixeira makes, a lot of Republican voters would make too, but then it would be called “racial resentment” by certain academics in our country.
The problem on the Right is that you have an existing institutional infrastructure that just doesn’t know how to govern outside of a very narrow set of policies, which primarily benefit the donor class. What Chris said about the donors on both the Left and the Right is exactly right and what you have because of it is this perception, I think in large measure a reality, of a uni-party that governs culturally a little bit to the left of the American people and economically very much to the right of the American people. And it just seems to go on no matter who wins, no matter who’s in charge. Even when a guy like Donald Trump runs against that consensus, his policy-making apparatus gets caught in the wheels of the machine.