Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Shortest Distance Between Point A and Point B Is the Rustbelt

Ron Brownstein brings his epic three part series on swing regions in the 2020 election to an end this week with his extensive piece on the Rustbelt. (I link below to his two earlier article on the Southeast and the Southwest, as well as this one.) Brownstein's basic take, backed up with a ton of granular demographic and voting data:
"Two weeks before Election Day, Joe Biden appears well-positioned to finish the job that Democrats above all hired him to do: Rebuild the party's blue wall in the Rust Belt.
Biden's principal asset in the 2020 Democratic primaries was the widespread sense among party voters that he was best qualified among the contenders to win back the defecting White voters, especially those without college degrees, who allowed Donald Trump to capture Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 2016 -- and with them the presidency.
Now, a wide array of public polls consistently shows Biden leading in all three states, defending Minnesota (which Trump has targeted) and running almost step for step with the President in Ohio and Iowa, two Rust Belt states Trump won more easily last time. With remarkable consistency across these states, polls show Biden benefiting from similar dynamics, as he attracts a solid majority of around 55% or more of college-educated White voters; a preponderant majority of around four-fifths of African Americans; and about two-fifths of Whites without college degrees, a number, that while modest, represents a clear improvement over Hillary Clinton's anemic showing with them in 2016.
If Biden holds all of the 20 states Clinton won in 2016 and regains Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, he will win -- whether or not he captures any of his targets across the Sun Belt, or for that matter, Ohio or Iowa."
I will somewhat immodestly note here the resemblance to my theory of the case on a Democratic victory in 2020, as outlined in many of my posts and articles in the last year or so.
Harry Enten adds additional confirmation, both of the current situation and my longstanding assessment of the road forward for Democrats.
"The live interview national polls taken since the first debate have Trump winning White voters without a college degree by about 17 points nationally. That may seem like a big lead, but Trump led among that group by 30 points in the final pre-election polls in 2016.
Trump's declining support among White voters without a college degree is bigger than his declining support overall and has been consistent throughout this cycle. Meanwhile, Biden's been at best matching and usually underperforming Clinton among Black and Hispanic voters, who are a far bigger factor in the Sun Belt than Great Lakes.
Additionally, Biden's been doing about 10 points better among White voters overall and nearly 20 points better among White women than Clinton did. All of these trends manifest more greatly in the Great Lakes than Sun Belt.
Importantly, you'll note that the comparison here controls for the Great Lake poll misses in 2016. We're focusing on the national polls, which were largely accurate in 2016. Also, we're doing an apples-to-apples comparison between pre-election polls then and now.
And if you still don't believe the polls, just look at the results in 2018 and the actions of the Biden campaign. House Democrats did significantly better in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin than in Arizona, Florida and North Carolina. They also won the governorship and Senate races in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in 2018.
There's a reason why Biden based his campaign in Philadelphia and has been outspending Trump by factors of greater than 2:1 in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
For Trump to win, he'll probably need to knock down the big blue wall again. If he can't, Biden's probably the next president.

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