The Census Bureau have released the basic data from their November Voter Supplement survey, the best survey source on turnout in federal elections. The data were released in the form of their detailed P-20 tables which are not particularly user-friendly, but hey better than nothing. Michael McDonald of the US Elections Project has crunched the data by race and provides a time series of turnout rates on his site (see below). His findings are basically consistent with what I said in my recent "10 Things We Now Know About the 2020 Election" post.
Thursday, April 29, 2021
The gang at The Liberal Patriot checks in on Biden's first hundred days and his speech last night. My reflections are included if you follow the link.
Here's the intro to our roundup:
"Like his sharp, values-based inaugural address focused on national unity after the tumultuous Trump years, President Biden gave a solid speech last night laying out his core priorities to Americans in his joint address to Congress. “Jobs, jobs, jobs,” pandemic recovery, and public investments to drive economic growth were the main messages throughout.
“America is ready for a takeoff,” proclaimed the President.
Biden pitched his multi-trillion dollar American recovery, jobs, and families plans as critical steps to get America back on its feet, create high-paying new jobs, and put America’s workers and businesses on firmer ground in global competition against China. He wisely avoided most culture war distractions that immediately raise partisan and ideological hackles.
But this is where the rubber hits the road, as they say. A well-organized set of speeches won’t amount to much if the Biden team does not translate these core values of national unity, public investments, and fighting for America’s interests in the global arena into the primary public focus of his administration going forward.
As the past few weeks have shown, it’s easy to fall back into the usual Democratic approach of talking about every issue under the sun and spending way too much time on mostly irresolvable social differences among Americans on immigration, climate change as an existential crisis rather than a jobs issue, and racial “equity”.
If Biden can successfully promote the content of his two big speeches throughout his entire administration—unity, national economic development, a stronger safety net, and foreign policies that protect and promote America’s interests—it will lead to good things politically and in policy terms. But with his job approval just above water at this point, and congressional majorities on the line in 2022, Biden needs to firmly put his mark on a Democratic Party that fights for working people, American businesses, and the common good above all else. "
Words of wisdom. For other reflections, including my take, click through on the link.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Not that it couldn't have been worse. By recent standards the Democrats' disadvantage in the redistricting process is comparatively modest. But a disadvantage doesn't have to be large to seriously affect the Democrats' chances of holding the House in 2022, given their current razor-thin margin.
From David Wasserman's excellent piece at Cook Political Report on the redistricting landscape:
"There was a much smaller shift than expected: only seven seats shifted between states, not the ten some estimates suggested. Texas was the big winner, picking up two seats. Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon each picked up one seat....
The power shift from the Frost Belt to Sun Belt and western states is a familiar trend. But even states without a gain or loss will have to redraw lines to adjust for population changes in time for 2022 (except the six states with only one district).
Republicans have the final authority to draw congressional lines in 187 districts, down from 219 seats in 2011. Democrats will have final authority in states totaling 75 districts, up from 44 in 2011. New bipartisan commissions passed by voters in Colorado, Michigan and Virginia bring the number of commission-drawn districts to 121 up from 88 ten years ago. And there are 46 districts in states where control is split between the parties, down from 77.
Republicans' biggest redistricting weapons are Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina - and they could conceivably pick up all five seats they need for the majority from those four alone."
Like I said, could have been worse. But it ain't good. This underscores the stakes for the Democrats in 2022 to maintain message discipline, aggressively pushing popular achievements and goals and avoiding unpopular ideas and rhetoric like the plague.
See Wasserman's article for many useful maps and tables. Also Bill Frey's article for Brookings and Kyle Kondik's for Sabato's Crystal Ball are full of useful information and graphics (linked to below).
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
My latest is up at The Liberal Patriot!
"As more data continue to come in about the 2020 election, the picture of what really happened is starting to clarify. In many ways, this picture defies expectations about the election and/or postelection assessments that took root in its immediate aftermath. Here are ten things that seem reasonably clear based on data, both public and nonpublic, that I have encountered."
Read all ten of 'em at The Liberal Patriot! And subscribe!!
Monday, April 26, 2021
The new paper by Micah English and Joshua L. Kalla, Racial Equality Frames and Public Policy Support: Survey Experimental Evidence, has gotten quite a lot of attention and deservedly so. Through a clever survey experiment, they show quite clearly that racial framing detracts from support for progressive policies relative to a class or even a neutral framing. This indicates that Democrats are marketing their policies poorly to the extent that they use racial framing to urge support for essentially race-neutral policies that will disproportionately benefit blacks and Latinos because they are disproportionately poor and disadvantaged. Therefore by increasingly relying on racial framing for progressive policies they are actually hurting the very constituencies (the black and Latino poor) they are so intent on helping.
The conclusion to the paper is worth quoting in full:
"As we have demonstrated, despite leftward shifts in public attitudes towards issues of racial equality, racial framing generally decreases support for progressive policies. Despite increasing awareness of racial inequities and a greater use of progressive race framing by Democratic elites, linking public policies to race is detrimental for support of those policies. Importantly, our results showed that Black Americans were just as swayed by the class frame as they were the race frame. Future research should investigate the causal mechanisms behind this.
As Mendelberg (2001, p. 187) detailed in her examination of racial appeals: “Democrats are correct in perceiving that their best interests lie in shifting the electoral agenda away from race and toward economic issues on which blacks and working class whites can agree. The Democrats can still pursue racially liberal policies while in office, and in fact it is in their interest to do so. By eroding racial inequality they will aid in bridging the racial divide that renders them so electorally vulnerable. But as many African Americans recognize, highlighting these efforts to white voters is likely to erode Democratic support among whites.”
It appears that this still holds true today. Democrats’ use of racial frames in describing their progressive policies may inadvertently make it harder for them to adopt public policies that will advance racial justice."
Note particularly that the racial frame doesn't even increase support among blacks for progressive policies. I would also note that it doesn't matter why support among whites is decreased by a racial framing--that is, whether it's "racial resentment" or the simple fact that when you're highlighting how a policy will benefit a particular group, those not in the group will then to wonder what's in it for them. The effect is the same: a racial framing does not work to increase support for progressive policies, it decreases it. Therefore, you shouldn't do it.
A further note, discussed in the paper, is that thee findings, while striking, are hardly a one-off. A wide range of studies and survey evidence has shown the same pattern. (See the graphic below for one of many examples, taken from a recent CAP poll.)
I will close by reiterating a principle I put forward in a recent post.
Just as Democrats should not advocate unpopular policies, they should not advocate popular policies in a way that makes them less popular.
This principle is more relevant than ever, given the current vogue for attaching the word "equity" to virtually everything the Democrats are advocating and frequently seeming to justify race-neutral and popular polices on the grounds that they would promote racial equity. As politics, this makes no sense. You are taking policies that have great appeal to persuadable voters--otherwise they would not be so popular--and framing them as equity policies, which will reduce their appeal to persuadable voters who have non-liberal views on racial issues.
This is a very bad idea. There are far more persuadables who support progressive economic positions but are non-woke on racial issues than there are those that are woke on racial issues but don't support progressive economic positions. So framing race-neutral, popular Democratic economic programs as equity programs is a very poor tradeoff in support and electoral terms.
What more do you need to know?
Saturday, April 24, 2021
The situation is not good (see the chart below for the saddest tales). Costas Lapavitsas and Jon Trickett discuss the possible fate of Britain's Labour Party in a contribution on Jacobin and Donald Sassoon has a broader survey of the current state of European social democracy on the Verso Books blog. Sassoon:
"By 2020 it had become obvious that traditional social democracy had been comprehensively defeated throughout Europe. Will it survive in some form or other, after the pandemic? Perhaps in Sweden, where it is still in power, but it is in deep trouble even there.
If, as Gramsci said, ‘the old is dying and the new cannot be born’, what is the ‘old’ that is on the way out? And is there something new on the horizon? Identifying the defunct ‘old’ is relatively easy. The ‘old’ that has gone is the kind of social democratic and liberal consensus that prevailed in the West in the thirty years after 1945, the so-called Soziale Marktwirtschaft, the social market.
The social market was supposed to create a national community which, though its members were still unequal in income, wealth and educational level, was sufficiently cohesive to make living under advanced capitalism better than living under any other kind of social system. The cost was not huge at a time of full employment, in what were the golden years of capitalism, the Trente Glorieuses as the French economist Jean Fourastié labelled them in 1979.
This almost generalised unity began to break up in the 1980s and 90s, but only in the last twenty years or so has it begun to affect the post-war party system by weakening the traditional centre-left and centre-right. In 1997, social democratic and labour parties had been in power in eleven out of the fifteen states that were then EU members. Just over twenty years later, these parties were barely in power in only a handful of countries. The social crisis has turned into a political crisis: morbid symptoms galore."
But....pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will comrades. We must soldier on!