Saturday, October 31, 2020

What If the Polling Errors in 2020 Are as Large as in 2016 and in the Same Direction?

That would probably not be enough for Trump to win. Check out:
1. Economist chart of the Democratic share of the 2 party vote by state if 2016 errors are replicated.
2. 538 table comparing pre-election Clinton polls with actual results by state and then the pre-election Biden polls and the simulated result with the same error baked in.
3. 538 electoral map based on the calculations in 2.

Friday, October 30, 2020

More Perfect Inversions: White College and White Noncollege in the Latest CNN Poll

In 2016, States of Change estimates Clinton carried white college voters by 6 points and lost white noncollege voters by 32 points. So, +6 vs. -32. Here's the latest figures from CNN on white college vs. white noncollege: 58-40 among white college and 40-58 among white noncollege; +18 vs.. -18. Perfect inversion! It's the pincers movement on the Orange One--a +12 D shift among white college along with a +14 shift among white noncollege.
It's a beautiful thing.
No photo description available.
Michael Handley

So, How Will Latinos Vote in Florida?

Who knows? This is a very, very hard population to poll accurately, particularly in Florida where the variety of Hispanics with widely differing political orientations (Puerto Rican, Cuban-American, etc) presents serious sampling challenges.

Taking Clinton's + 15 over Trump in 2016 among Florida Hispanics as a baseline (States of Change data), here's what we have for Biden margins among this group in the last three high quality polls in the state:
Marist -6
Quinnipiac +16
Monmouth +26
So Biden is either doing terribly, OK or great among Florida Latinos. Glad we could clear that up.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Move Fast and Spend Big

Quick--what's the biggest problem Biden (assuming he wins) is likely to run into in the early part of the administration? Republican opposition, sure that'll be a problem. But Paul Krugman makes the case that a potentially huge problem is deficit hysteria, which could derail big spending plans precisely at the time where they're needed the most. Don't think that could happen? Think again and cast your mind back to the lunatic obsession with the deficit that hit centrists and the news media back in 2010-11 when the economy was still on its knees. It could happen again.
"Given the current and likely future state of the U.S. economy, it’s time to (a) spend a lot of money on the future and (b) not worry about where the money is coming from. For now, and for at least the next few years, large-scale deficit spending isn’t just OK, it’s the only responsible thing to do....
If Biden is inaugurated in January, he will inherit a nation still devastated by the coronavirus. Trump keeps saying that we’re “rounding the corner,” but the reality is that cases and hospitalizations are surging (and anyone expecting a lame-duck Trump administration to take effective action against the surge is living in a dream world.) And we won’t be able to have a full economic recovery as long as the pandemic is still raging.
What this means is that it will be crucial to provide another round of large-scale fiscal relief, especially aid to the unemployed and to cash-strapped state and local governments. The main purpose of this relief will be humanitarian — helping families pay the rent and keep food on the table, helping cities and towns avoid devastating cuts in essential services. But it will also help avoid a downward economic spiral, by heading off a potential collapse in consumer and local government spending.
The need for big spending will not, however, end with the pandemic. We also need to invest in our future. After years of public underspending, America desperately needs to upgrade its infrastructure. In particular, we should be investing heavily in the transition to an environmentally sustainable economy. And we should also do much more to help children grow up to be healthy, productive adults; America spends shamefully little on aid to families compared with other wealthy countries.
But how can we pay for all this investment? Bad question."
Bad question indeed. But we will hear it loud and long, certainly from the GOP, but much will depend on whether and how buy-in Republican born-again deficit hawks will get from the "responsible" media and centrists and whether and how much Democrats are willing to stand up to this nonsense.
"Nonpartisan private-sector analysts are...remarkably high on the economics of Biden’s spending proposals. Moody’s Analytics predicts that real G.D.P. would be 4.5 percent higher under Biden’s plan than under a continuation of Trump policies; Goldman Sachs says 3.7 percent. Neither is worried about the effects on debt.
So there’s an overwhelming economic case for Biden — if he wins! — to go big on spending, first to get us through the pandemic he’ll inherit, then to build a better future. But will politics get in the way?
It’s a given that Republicans, who turned silent on deficits under Trump, will suddenly declare debt an existential threat with a Democrat in the White House. The real questions are whether centrists and the news media will buy into deficit hysteria, the way they did in the Obama years, and whether members of the Biden team will lose their nerve."
However much you already feel this could be a problem, you're likely underestimating it. Everything will depend on Democrats plowing through this problem and sticking to their plans.

Whither the Left After November?

Even if Biden wins and the Democrats take back the Senate, the challenges for the left in moving forward will be immense. Sheri Berman has an excellent article on the Social Europe site on how the left should seek to overcome these challenges.
She notes:
"If there were ever a time when a strong left—committed to defending liberal democracy, fostering social solidarity and promoting dynamic and just economies—was needed, it is now.
Yet it isn’t necessary to remind...readers how elusive has been a left with distinctive and viable plans to deal generally with the west’s problems—and capable of earning the electoral support to implement its solutions—over the past generation.
This lack was perhaps most painfully highlighted by the financial crisis of 2008, which created immense dissatisfaction with neoliberalism and austerity and a general recognition that capitalism had gone ‘out of whack’. But it saw no surge in support for the left and concomitantly no major change in the economic status quo.
Indeed, the discontent and grievances generated by the financial crisis and its aftermath ended up benefiting right-wing populists in Europe and Donald Trump in the US, which of course only deepened our societies’ problems and made them harder to solve. If the aftermath of the...period of dislocation and turbulence we are experiencing is to be different from that following the financial crisis, the left will need to learn from past mistakes."
Berman goes on to highlight some points made by John Judis in his new book The Socialist Awakening and by myself in my recent Five Deadly Sins of the Left article:
"One extremely helpful recent intervention in the debate on how the American left should move forward is John Judis’ The Socialist Awakening. What’s Different Now About the Left. Judis analyses the left resurgence accompanying Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly successful campaigns for nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016 and 2020. He sees signs of hope in developments on the left in recent years—but also reasons for concern.
Economically, Judis argues the left needs to thread its way between two temptations which have bedevilled it in the past. The first, present in left-wing intellectual circles in the US today as well as in many European left parties—perhaps most notably Britain’s Labour Party when Jeremy Corbyn was leader—is a tendency to engage in unmediated critiques of capitalism and ‘eschatological fantasies’ about revolutionary transformations of it.
Another active participant in American debates, Ruy Teixeira, refers to this as the sin of ‘retro-socialism’. He notes: ‘By grasping nostalgically at revolutionary rhetoric, the Left sets the bar high for public embrace of what might otherwise be quite popular policy ideas, from single-payer health insurance to free college to a job guarantee.’....
But if it is important to avoid scaring voters with demands that they do not favour and which cannot be achieved, it is also necessary to go beyond ‘merely’ ameliorative reforms. There can be no return either to the technocratic management of capitalism characterising the ‘third-way’ approach of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, as embodied in the US presidency of Bill Clinton or the British premiership of Tony Blair.
Significant structural reforms are needed to deal with capitalism’s extensive problems and the risks and disadvantages workers and the middle class face today. But these types of reforms, Judis stresses, must be practicable as well as ‘conceivable in the space of a generation’....
If developing comprehensive and convincing plans for reforming contemporary capitalism is one prerequisite for a successful centre-left today, the other, obviously, is winning power, and here is where this latter tendency—what Teixeira, for example, calls the ‘sin of identity politics’—comes in.....
This means designing policies and appeals that are positive rather than zero-sum. Rather than demonising particular groups for their purported privileges, ‘erroneous’ thinking and so on, the goal should be to remind voters that helping historically disadvantaged minorities is an integral part of the larger progressive goal of creating a more just and equal society that will benefit all citizens.
As Teixeira puts it, as long as the ‘left appears more interested in finding new enemies than in seeking new friends, it will fail to advance its many important priorities’. This is true not only because it is politically limiting but also because recreating a sense of social solidarity, of shared commitment among citizens, is the prerequisite for repairing the damage done by Trump—and the decades of unaddressed economic and social problems which provided the foundation for his rise in the first place."
That's the challenge. We'll see if the left can rise to the occasion.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Closing of the Racial Voting Gap Is a Feature, Not a Bug

Nate Cohn has a good article on the NYT site about the shrinkage of the racial gap in voting in this election. The basic idea is simple: Biden's stronger performance against Trump in this cycle relative to Clinton in 2016 is the resultant of two forces: (1) Biden is doing quite a bit better than Clinton among white voters; and (2) Biden is lagging Clinton's performance among nonwhite voters, with the electoral benefit from (1) far outweighing the electoral harm from (2).
Cohn notes:
"The decrease in racial polarization defies the expectations of many analysts, who believed a campaign focused on appeals to issues like Black Lives Matter or “law and order” would do the opposite. It may also upset the hopes of some activists on the left who viewed an embrace of more progressive policies on race as a way to help Democrats carve a new path to the presidency. This path would have been powered by overwhelming support from nonwhite voters, reducing the need to cater to the more conservative white voters who backed Mr. Trump four years ago. Instead, Mr. Biden leads because of gains among those very voters."
Well, it didn't "defy the expectations" of *this* analyst. I always thought the idea that Democrats could win through supercharged nonwhite support and turnout generated by race-based issues was a foolish strategy for winning a Presidential election. More white support was key, especially among the white noncollege demographic. In a country where 70 percent or so of voters in his coming election will be white, and considerably more than that in a number of key states, simple political arithmetic suggested the necessity for Democrats to close the racial voting gap by bringing white support up. And that is what Biden's campaign has managed to do. That is very definitely a feature, not a bug.
Some of the particulars from Cohn:
"Over all, Mr. Trump leads among white voters by only five points in high-quality surveys conducted since the Republican National Convention in August, compared with a 13-point advantage in the final surveys before the 2016 election. Not only does Mr. Trump fall short of his own lead with that group from 2016, but he also underperforms every recent Republican presidential candidate since Bob Dole in 1996.
Mr. Biden’s gains among white voters are broad, spanning not only the groups expected to shift toward him — like white suburban women — but also the white working-class voters across the Northern battleground states who represented the president’s decisive strength four years ago.
Over all, Mr. Trump leads by 21 points among white voters without a degree, 58 percent to 37 percent, compared with his 29-point edge (59-30) in the final polls in 2016....By contrast, white college graduates back Mr. Biden by 21 points in recent polls, up from a 13-point edge for Mrs. Clinton in the final polls four years ago."
My figures from the Nationscape survey over the same time period are about the same for Trump's current lead among whites overall (6 points in this case) but the Nationscape survey sees Biden performing better among noncollege whites and his lead among college whites as more modest. My comparison to 2016 is to the final results rather than the final pre-election surveys and also shows a sharper move to Biden among noncollege whites, though the shift Cohn finds is still quite significant.
It's worth asking why Biden's nonwhite support still appears to be lagging behind Clinton's pre-election and final results from 2016. Even if that support firms up in the election--and I expect this will happen to some extent--it seems unlikely the Biden will do better than Clinton and may indeed run a bit behind. Nate Cohn has some very pertinent observations on this score that may not be to the liking of some progressive activists, but nevertheless contain a great deal of truth.
"In Times/Siena polling so far this fall, Black and Hispanic voters appear somewhat receptive to the kinds of conservative messages usually derided as racist dog whistles. In polling in September, for example, nonwhite voters split roughly evenly on whether “law and order” or the coronavirus was more important to their presidential vote. Nonwhite voters were likelier to say they thought Mr. Trump would do a better job handling “law and order” than they were to say they supported him over Mr. Biden.
It was not the first time this cycle that nonwhite voters defied the hopes of progressive activists. Black Democrats in Virginia were likelier than white Democrats to say Ralph Northam should remain as governor after the revelation of a 35-year-old racist photo on his medical school yearbook page. And Black voters backed Mr. Biden by overwhelming margins over a variety of more progressive challengers in the primary, despite his often conservative record on race and policing.
Many progressive policies for systematic change, like reparations for the descendants of slaves, defunding the police or removing Confederate monuments, fail to attract strong support in polls, suggesting that a focus on these issues could risk eroding Democratic standing. It also suggests a widening gap between the views of progressive activists and the rank-and-file of nonwhite voters."
As I have repeatedly argued, the assumption that the views and intense focus of progressive activists on race-based issues are representative of the views and concerns of the median black or Latino voter is simply wrong. The voters they claim they represent have different and typically more "kitchen table' priorities. That could be another lesson for progressives from this campaign.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Possible Futures of the Post-Trump Republican Party

If Trump loses this election, as seems increasingly likely, what is next for the Grand Old Party? If you're to read one article about this question, I do believe the best currently available is Nicholas Lemann's in the latest issue of the New Yorker. The first part of the article is a very nice summary of the steps that took the Republican party from its Chamber of Commerce pro-business roots to the fusion of business interests, nativism and militarism promoted by William F. Buckley, Jr. to the triumph of the fusionist approach with Ronald Reagan to its dissolution with the astonishing takeover of the party by Donald Trump.
Given the current state of the party, Lemann outlines three possible futures for a post-Republican party that will vie for dominance: Remnant, Restoration and Reversal.
Remnant: Trumpism without Trump; making his formula work with a different leader
Restoration: Conventional, norm-respecting Republicans take back control, updating the fusionist formula with a bit more populism and bit more social liberalism
Reversal: The Republicans become the tribune of the working middle class against a Democratic party in thrall to big economic interests and educated elites more interested in extreme social liberalism and pet causes than the lives of ordinary Americans.
Of the three, I guess I'd bet on Remnant for now. The party just seems too dominated by Trump's approach, particularly at the grassroots, to quickly pivot to the status quo ante--Restoration--because of an election loss, even a big one. The rot is too deep, as, for example, the Never Trumpers at the Bulwark argue convincingly. And the Reversal scenario, while an interesting idea, with some serious intellectuals behind it, seems fanciful given the still-huge influence of big and very conservative economic interests, in the party, whose libertarian economic philosophy seems quite at adds with helping the working class.
It will be very interesting to see how all this shakes out.