Thursday, December 30, 2021

Predicting the 2022 Election Results

Sure, it's still early but you can fiddle around with simple models and still get some real signal. That's what Seth Masket does in this post from Mischiefs of Faction. He uses a very standard midterm model of growth in real per capita disposal income/presidential approval/seats held by majority party.
The bottom line, assuming 4 percent real disposable income growth (very good) and a stable Biden approval rating:
"Plugging these values in, we get Democrats losing 25 seats. Given that they only hold 221 right now, that means Republicans taking control by a healthy margin. Of course, there are large error margins around all these estimates, and we really don't know what conditions will look like by next fall....[Looking at] a range of likely election outcomes given different levels of economic growth and presidential approval...Democrats are expected to lose House seats in almost all situations, except for presidential approval over 65% and economic growth over 4%, the combination of which is not particularly likely to show up....
[M]idterm forecast models are inherently noisy, and the one for 2022 may be noisier than usual. It's still too early to make anything like a precise forecast. But the number of possible futures in which Democrats hold onto the House are very, very few"
More impressionistically, Matt Yglesias ventures a 90 percent prediction probability Democrats will lose both the House and Senate. Possibly a touch too gloomy. But not be much.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Take the Deal

Don't kid yourself. Dragging this process out even further will not result in a better bill nor improve the Democrats' chances in 2022.
"[T]aking Manchin’s deal doesn’t mean giving up on an expanded CTC. It would force Democrats to find some creative legislative solution. Maybe Romney would want to work on a signature domestic bill he could all but design himself. Maybe the sudden end of the checks would create a new groundswell to extend them that’s currently absent.
Either way, Manchin’s proposal gives Biden something vastly superior to the failure of Build Back Better. He would have the largest green-energy investment in history plus the creation of a permanent pre-kindergarten plan plus making health insurance universally available."

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

More on the Democrats' Hispanic Voter Problem

Aaron Zitner at the WSJ has a good article on GOP-shifting Hispanics in eastern PA, the locus of Hispanic growth in the state. The analysis rings some of the themes familiar from my recent Hispanic voters Substack post (linked to below).
“You had a set of Latino voters who weren’t especially partisan and who had seen it as socially unacceptable to vote for Trump in 2016,” said Carlos Odio of Democratic-aligned Equis Research, which conducted surveys and focus groups to understand the shift. “‘My friends and family will be mad at me if I do this.’ You need a justification to do it.”
“The economy, the issue on which they trusted Trump, unlocked the door to embracing him,” Mr. Odio said.
At the same time, many Latino voters came to view the Democratic Party as untethered from their top concerns—unsupportive of law enforcement, too lax on border security and too focused on racial disparities, said Ruy Teixeira, a demographics expert and co-editor of The Liberal Patriot newsletter. Among other things, this brought the GOP new votes from Hispanic voters who have a conservative bent but hadn’t acted on it, he said.
“I think the bloom is off the rose for Democrats in terms of having an automatic pass from Hispanics,” said Mr. Teixeira. “They’re more suspicious and less sure that the Democratic Party is on their side.”...
Mr. Trump improved his 2016 showing among Latino voters in the rural Rio Grande Valley and big-city Philadelphia and the Bronx borough of New York—as well as in smaller cities. Reading is one of Pennsylvania’s poorest communities and home to a large concentration of Hispanic residents—two qualities that traditionally would make it a secure Democratic stronghold. The city’s tidy row houses, which run for blocks, sometimes display the flag of Puerto Rico or a Latin American nation. Some 69% of city residents are Hispanic, a larger share than in any other Pennsylvania municipality.
Mr. Trump won only 27% of the vote here, but that was nearly 8 points more than in 2016, matching Catalist’s assessment of the national trend. As a result, Mr. Biden won the city with about 4,000 fewer votes than Mrs. Clinton had—a meaningful change in a state that he carried by just over 80,000 votes....
To Wes Anderson, a Republican political strategist, the GOP would make a mistake in assuming it can hold on to the Latino voters who moved toward the party in 2020. But he believes Democrats have made the job easier with policies on border security, law enforcement and racial disparities that some Latino voters think are too liberal.
Mr. Teixeira said the shift was a significant problem for the Democratic Party, challenging a central assumption that the party could rely on strong support from minority groups to counteract its weakened hold among white, working-class voters."

Monday, December 27, 2021

Calling All Big Tent Democrats!

The Welcome Party organization is doing some great work trying to build a big tent Democratic party. They have some stern words for those on the left of the party who seem more interested in fratricidal attacks on Joe Manchin than in building the big tent party actually capable of defeating an increasingly authoritarian GOP. From their newsletter (well worth subscribing to):
"In vitriolic response to Manchin’s “Fox News Sunday” appearance, the Twitterverse has been brimming with everything from preposterous assertions that the West Virginia Democrat is, in fact, a Republican to nonsensical insinuations that he has done more than Mitch McConnell to blow up Biden’s agenda. These extreme and dishonest characterizations come either from a place of ignorance, malevolence, or both....
To put it mildly, the differences between Manchin and MAGA are stark. Mitch McConnell couldn’t be more off-base when he argues that Manchin would fit in better with the GOP than with the Democrats, but that has not stopped him from getting away with doing so. At a time when Democrats should be doing everything they can to convert the handful of remaining pro-democracy Republicans (such as those who voted for Trump’s impeachment), it is both striking and problematic that the obstructionist in chief and his ever-more-authoritarian cabal are leading the charge on cross-partisan recruitment.
The Democrats desperately need a big-tent, pro-democracy faction capable of appealing to cross-partisan coalitions of voters in swing districts across the country — and there’s no better place to start than with those elected officials on the center-right who clearly feel alienated from today’s radicalized GOP. Fostering such a faction requires that the party and its leadership make it crystal clear that they welcome and encourage a diversity of voices and perspectives, and that begins with Manchin. While the West Virginia senator won’t support everything that his colleagues to the left propose, they should be receptive to and grateful for everything that he is willing to get behind. After all, they’re lucky to have him.
As we wrote earlier this fall in The Bulwark, Democrats should be responding with empathy and aggressive recruitment to the growing spectre of political intimidation on the right. When the far-right has chosen to engage in threats of physical intimidation against members of the GOP, the Trump wing has largely been rewarded with retracted critiques and retirements.
As The Spectator World observed back in October, this kind of intimidation — physical and psychological — doesn’t work on Joe Manchin. When the far-left tried to pressure Manchin (he told the White House his family had “been the target of abuse”), they simply tore at the seams of an already-fragile big tent....
The disproportionate one-sidedness of this week’s conversation seems to suggest that the kind of self-righteous, pie-in-the-sky thinking that animates the online left is increasingly seeping into and molding how a substantial segment of the Democratic mainstream thinks — across the party’s leadership, base, and media allies. In many ways, it’s a mirroring of the same kind of far-left groupthink that gripped the candidates during the 2020 party primary debates. Remember when Elizabeth Warren raked John Delaney over the coals (to thundering applause) for his suggestion that Democrats are best served by running on “real solutions, not impossible promises”?
Warren’s leftist nihilism — “I don’t understand why someone goes to all the trouble of running for President of the United States just to talk about what we can’t do” — eloquently forecast Democrats’ 2022 predicament, where the left can plainly state not only disinterest in reality, but disdain for it.
Democrats from deep-blue strongholds must remember that many of the policies and assumptions they take for granted are, in fact, controversial or downright unpopular with large and critical constituencies across the country.
That the party has lost its focus and allowed this moment to be construed as “Manchin vs. the Democrats” instead of “big-tent Democrats vs. the increasingly authoritarian GOP” is telling of its approach to this perilous moment. Instead of Mitch McConnell trying to recruit moderate Democrats to his team, it’s time for Democrats to roll up their sleeves and start working over moderate Republicans — and their constituents."
Manchin’s Judges — and Democrats’ Judgment
Manchin’s Judges — and Democrats’ Judgment
If we build a Democratic Party with Joe Manchin’s focus and the GOP’s aggressive cross-party recruitment, perhaps 2022 won’t be so bad after all.

Friday, December 24, 2021

What Were You/Me/They Thinking?

How did people convince themselves constraints weren't constraints? It's a bit of a mystery. Charlie Cook:
"While there is still a chance that Biden and maverick Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin can reach some agreement early next year for a scaled-down version of the Build Back Better Act, the budget reconciliation package with major social spending and climate-change funding, the reality is that Biden and Democratic congressional leaders badly miscalculated what was realistic given the circumstances of the 2020 election outcome. Not to beat on a dead horse but while so many Democrats are pointing fingers and cursing Manchin, or trashing him to sympathetic reporters, their time might be better spent trying to learn something from this debacle of a year.
Quite simply, if you want to do big things, you have to win elections big. The ambition of a party’s legislative and policy agenda should be commensurate with the magnitude of their victory. A meager victory won with the smallest of majorities demands a more modest agenda. Notwithstanding many worthy elements in what Democrats sought this year, proportionality was not to be found when comparing how Democrats did in 2020 and what they tried to do in 2021.
Biden’s 5-point popular vote win masked the fact that the relationship between the popular and electoral vote has been severed. Democrats running up the score in California and a few other populous states distort the picture about what really matters: the swing states. By that standard, this was an extremely close election, decided by a combined total of fewer than 126,000 votes scattered across four states. That is a long haul from Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson’s 44-state sweeps, with popular-vote wins of 23 and 18 points, respectively.
Looking at Congress, 59 of the Senate’s 96 seats were occupied by Democrats when FDR took office. LBJ had 68 out of 100. Democrats had 313 seats in the House for FDR, 295 for LBJ.
For this Congress, Democrats won their 49th seat on Jan. 5 with Raphael Warnock’s win of just under 94,000 votes over Kelly Loeffler in one Georgia runoff. The 50th came days later, as Jon Ossoff was declared the winner, by just under 55,000 votes over David Perdue. This is about as underwhelming as Senate majorities come.
The 221 seats that Democrats have in the House represents a 13-seat loss in the 2020 election. Their very majority was saved by fewer than 32,000 votes in five districts. Simply put, this was a very ambiguous election result and not one from which to claim a mandate."

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Crisis of the Global Center-Right

I write a lot about the problems of the left because, well, they're my team and I want them to do better. But the right has its problems too--big problems. One of the most astute observers of the right and its problems is Henry Olsen and he has a a terrific column in the Post on the how poorly the center-right is doing across countries. Fascinating.
"Many anti-Trump Republicans long for the day when they can retake their party and expel the populist deviations from orthodoxy that vex them so. Evidence from around the world shows this is a pipe dream.
The same fissures in the old conservative coalition that plague the GOP appear in virtually every other modern democracy. Nationalist and populist parties have grown dramatically in the past decade, often gaining near parity with incumbent center-right parties. Urban and suburban moderate voters, meanwhile, have often swung to classically liberal or green parties that are comfortable aligning with left-wing governments.
We can see this clearly in European polls and recent election results. Scandinavian polls show national populist parties obtaining between 11 and 19 percent of the vote. EKRE, Estonia’s populist incarnation, now leads that nation’s polls with 22 percent, while the Flemish separatist and anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang leads Belgian surveys. National populist parties in Austria and Spain are polling in the high-teens, and a trio of nationalist parties garnered nearly a quarter of Dutch voters in recent surveys. No center-right coalition can emerge without these parties’ involvement.
Center-right parties that reject that option must invariably form governments with centrists or even their traditional center-left opponents. The incoming four-party Dutch government will include Democrats 66, a center-left party. This means the new coalition agreement includes substantial spending increases for education and climate change, leading ING bank to declare it was “a farewell to Dutch frugality.” Austria’s conservatives govern with the Greens, resulting in a budget with tax cuts for business and working-class voters balanced by increases in carbon taxes to battle climate change. These parties, like many in the moderate and business wings of the GOP, would prefer to swing to the center economically rather than swing right on cultural issues to placate populists...
The global evidence makes it clear that 1980s-era Reagan-Thatcher conservative politics is a dead letter. Coalitions built on that formula — free markets, globally minded, strong on defense — no longer win majorities. The new conservative winning formula is extremely hard to pull off, as one must simultaneously satisfy the still significant Reaganite element while winning over nationalist populists and moderate suburbanites. Having incompetent opponents who veer too far to the left, such as Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn, help bring these disparate groups together out of fear. But no center-right figure has yet built such a coalition on positive grounds that has survived the stress of actually governing.
Republican strategists ought to read the tea leaves now and work toward building that durable coalition. The longer they ignore reality, the less likely they will win in 2024 and beyond."
The left that had its act together would be able to take advantage of these problems on the right. Unfortunately at this point today's left doesn't seem be that left but instead one intent on continued Brahminizaton and under-achivement.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Mistakes--The Democrats Have Made a Few....

At The Liberal Patriot, John Halpin and I look back at the Democrats' 2021. The intro:
"The past year has been head spinning in political terms. 2021 started out with the unprecedented assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump seeking to disrupt the constitutional certification of the presidential election—an election won fair and square by Joe Biden—followed by Trump’s second impeachment for inciting insurrection, which again ended in acquittal in the Senate. Trump’s election antics and interventions in the Georgia Senate runoff elections unexpectedly helped Democrats gain unified control of government for the first time since 2009 when Barack Obama’s presidency began.
The stage was set for a triumphant first year for President Biden and Democrats.
With the wind at his back, Biden moved quickly on his promised “return to normal” with a series of well-executed policy achievements from the American Rescue Plan and vaccine rollout to new diplomatic efforts and movement on infrastructure investments.
“Shots in arms, checks in pockets.”
The second half of the year, unfortunately, was marked by inexplicable stumbles and self-inflicted political wounds that left Biden and Democrats depleted—and Republicans energized—ahead of critical midterm elections.
What happened? It’s a story of promise and political shrewdness followed by hubris and political obtuseness."
A sad end to a story that started so well. Read the whole thing at The Liberal Patriot!