Saturday, October 30, 2021
This is really an excellent overview from Steven Shepard at Politico. Fair and balanced! Here are the proximate reasons why Youngkin could really win this one. Note this particularly:
"It fits with a national trend that suggests that Democrats’ traditional advantages on education have been eroded. In this week’s POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, slightly more voters nationally said they trusted Democrats in Congress to handle education than Republicans, 43 percent to 39 percent. Nine months ago, just as Biden’s presidency was beginning in late January, Democrats’ lead on that question in POLITICO/Morning Consult’s polling was much wider, 51 percent to 29 percent."
Friday, October 29, 2021
Yes, the polls could be off but it's not a good sign for McAuliffe that the polling has steadily trended against him and that the polling average, according to 538, now puts Youngkin in a slight lead.
We'll see who prevails on election day but it seems fair to say that this race is now a toss-up when it wasn't supposed to be. And that furthermore Youngkin's elevation of the education issue has just flat-out worked. Right now, polls have Youngkin way ahead among independents (+22 in the Fox News Poll, +18 in the Washington Post poll, +17 in the Echelon Insights poll) and, as Mona Charen notes at The Bulwark:
"[T]he issue that has arguably done the most harm to McAuliffe is education. Remember those independent and female voters who have moved so strongly toward Youngkin? That has coincided with the rise of education as a campaign issue. Women usually rank education as more important than men do. Between September and October, the number of Virginians listing education as a priority rose from 31 to 41 percent."
In the Echelon Insights poll, Youngkin is ahead of McAuliffe by 6 points on who is trusted on education and leads by 15 points (!) on that issue among K-12 parents.
The typical response among Democrats is that the issues raised by Youngkin on education are non-issues that amount to "racist dog whistles". This leaves Democrats powerless to figure out a way to respond to Republican attacks beyond accusing parents who might be worried about these issues of being racists. This is not effective as the Virginia campaign is showing. It's the Fox News Fallacy in action, as I have written previously--assuming anything raised by conservatives must be completely without merit and stern denunciation is the only option.
David Brooks puts his finger on something that most liberals are loathe to admit--clashes in the area of education are not simply a battle of good against evil but to a large extent a clash of subcultures where many, many voters do not find the progressive subculture an attractive alternative--and for some pretty good reasons.
"On behalf of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Jeremy Stern reviewed the 50 state history standards in 2011 and then again in 2021. To his pleasant surprise, he found that the standards were growing more honest. States were doing a better job at noting America’s sins along with its achievements. The states that had the best civics and history standards were as likely to be red as blue: Alabama, California, Massachusetts and Tennessee (D.C. scored equally well).
In my experience, most teachers find ways to teach American history in this way, and most parents support it — 78 percent of Americans support teaching high schoolers about slavery, according to a 2021 Reuters/Ipsos poll.
But the progressive subculture has promoted ideas that go far beyond this and often divide the races into crude, essentialist categories.
A training for Loudoun County, Va., public school administrators taught that “fostering independence and individual achievement” is a hallmark of “white individualism.”
A Williams College professor told The Times last week, “This idea of intellectual debate and rigor as the pinnacle of intellectualism comes from a world in which white men dominated.”
If you want to stage a radical critique of individualism and intellectual rigor, be my guest, but things get problematic when you assign the “good” side of this tension to one racial category and the “bad” side to another racial category.
It is also becoming more common to staple a highly controversial ideological superstructure onto the quest for racial justice. We’re all by now familiar with some of the ideas that constitute this ideological superstructure: History is mainly the story of power struggles between oppressor and oppressed groups; the history of Western civilization involves a uniquely brutal pattern of oppression; language is frequently a weapon in this oppression and must sometimes be regulated to ensure safety; actions and statements that do not explicitly challenge systems of oppression are racist; the way to address racism is to heighten white people’s awareness of their own toxic whiteness, so they can purge it.
Today a lot of parents have trouble knowing what’s going on in their kids’ classrooms. Is it a balanced telling of history or the gospel according to Robin DiAngelo?
When they challenge what they sense is happening, they meet a few common responses. They are told, as by Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, that parents shouldn’t tell schools what to teach. They are told they are racist. Or they are blithely assured that there is nothing radical going on — when in fact there might be.
Parents and legislators often respond with a lot of nonsense about critical race theory and sometimes by legalizing their own forms of ideological censorship. But their core intuition is not crazy: One subculture is sometimes using its cultural power to try to make its views dominant, often through intimidation.
When people sense that those with cultural power are imposing ideologies on their own families, you can expect the reaction will be swift and fierce."
I suspect this is part of what we're seeing the Virginia race. It's a sign Democrats need to take off their progressive subculture blinders and deal with the complex reality of public opinion on difficult issues.
Thursday, October 28, 2021
Ten Things We Now Know About What Went Right (And Wrong) for Democrats in 2020 in Wisconsin and Nevada
My latest for The Liberal Patriot looks at new and very detailed data on Wisconsin and Nevada in 2020 that were just released by Catalist. These are excellent data, far better than anything previously available.
"Wisconsin was the tipping point state for the Democrats in 2020 and it was incredibly close. Trump carried it by .8 percentage points in 2016, while Democrats carried it by only .6 points in 2020. Nevada wasn’t as close but it was still an uncomfortable victory for the Democrats, a mere 2.4 point margin in 2020, no improvement at all on Clinton’s narrow margin in 2016.
It has been difficult until now to find reliable data with which to suss out the various trends and counter-trends that produced these results in these two key states. With the data just released by Catalist, however, we now have data detailed and reliable enough to make some judgments about what drove the Wisconsin and Nevada results. There are important similarities to the national story, as well as some significant differences in these states.
Here, then, as another installment in my popular “Ten Things” series, are ten things we now know about the 2020 election in Wisconsin and Nevada. (Margin shifts are all based on the two party vote).
1. The key shift in Wisconsin in 2020 was the shift of white college-educated voters toward the Democrats. There was an 8 point margin shift toward Biden compared to Clinton in 2016. That shift is clearly the main and most direct reason Biden carried the state....
5. There was a truly astonishing 24 point margin shift toward Trump among Wisconsin’s nonwhite 18-29 year olds. That’s got to be a bit worrying for Democrats....
8. Latino voters, though their turnout and voter share in [Nevada] increased strongly, did not wind up benefiting the Democrats much relative to 2016 since they also exhibited a very large 18 margin point shift toward Trump. This is another piece of evidence that high turnout does not automatically favor the Democrats. Black voters too shifted a substantial 12 points toward Trump...
10. Overall, the Democrats lost ground among the multiracial working class in the state (around 70 percent of the state’s voters) while gaining ground among the state’s college graduates. As in Wisconsin, the nonwhite working class drove the Democrats’ working class losses, shifting 12 points toward Trump."
Read all ten cool new Wisconsin and Nevada facts at The Liberal Patriot! And subscribe--it's free!
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Not a surprise, but new Pew data confirms the growing public appetite for more police funding. Particularly interesting is a finding that black and Hispanic Democrats are significantly more likely than white Democrats to favor more police funding in their area.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
While Democratic candidates in races that are even remotely competitive are running as fast as they can away from this genuinely terrible and politically damaging idea, the idea refuses to die. The flickering flame is still nursed by numerous left activists, politicians of the Squad variety, BLM and other advocacy organizations and, of course, the campaign for Question 2 in Minneapolis.
This question, which will be voted on in city elections on November 2, proposes replacing the Minneapolis police department with a Department of Public Safety that would focus less on direct policing and eliminate a city mandate for maintaining a certain level of police staffing. Amid a spike in violent crime in the city and already-plunging police staffing levels, this seems like a tough sell.
However, the ballot question wording is bit hard to parse and its supporters are working hard. Sparse polling indicates that support and opposition are closely divided. Possibly the most fascinating thing about the situation is that, if the question does pass, it will probably be because of white not black support.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune's September poll found whites supporting a significantly paraphrased version of the question by 11 points, while blacks opposed it by 5 points. In the same poll, black Minneapolis voters thunderously rejected the idea of reducing the size of the city's police force by 75 percent-14 percent, compared to the more modest 51-3argin among whites.
Similarly, black Minneapolis voters believe by 68-13 that reducing the size of the police force would have a negative, rather than positive, effect on public safety compared to a 52-21 margin among whites.
Finally, a recent ALG poll has current mayor Jacob Frey, who opposes Question 2, far ahead of second place candidate, Ilhan Omar-endorsed and Question 2-supporting Sheila Nezhad. Frey is particularly strong among black voters, who give him 58 percent of their first place votes in Minneapolis' ranked choice system.
It seems very likely that if Question 2 passes, it will against the wishes of the city's black voters. That's something to think about.
Monday, October 25, 2021
Well, I guess I still think McAuliffe will pull it out, but it's a very close call. I would not at all be surprised at this point if Youngkin wins. He's run a good campaign, road-testing an approach that could possibly be used by other GOP candidates in the run-up to 2022.
"As The Bulwark’s Amanda Carpenter put it: “Youngkin has worked carefully not to come off too Trumpy, definitely not anti-Trump, but just Trumpy enough to put the Republican coalition back together again.”...
It’s...striking to see a sea of red Youngkin campaign signs in some of the bluest precincts in northern Virginia, where it was rare to see any Trump campaign material for miles during the past two presidential elections. At a campaign event in Manassas last week, Youngkin called his campaign yard signs “permission passports” to show suburban voters that it was still socially acceptable for them to support a Republican. During his speech, Youngkin name-checked former President George W. Bush (referencing his line about “the soft bigotry of low expectations” on education), but didn’t mention Donald Trump’s name at all. It’s a signal that even anti-Trump swing suburban voters can tell the difference between Trump and Youngkin....
Polls show that Youngkin, focusing his campaign message on education, has closed McAuliffe’s early advantage. A new Monmouth poll released this week shows the two candidates tied at 46 percent apiece, compared to a 5-point McAuliffe lead in September. Despite the barrage of ads tying Youngkin to Trump, the Republican’s personal image is at a healthy level (41 percent view him favorably, 29 percent unfavorably), while McAuliffe’s image has taken a hit (39 percent favorable, 39 percent unfavorable)."
That bit about the Youngkin signs in non-Trumpy areas especially worries me. Anecdotal to be sure but....
James Hohmann brings the laboratory aspect of the Virginia race into sharp focus in a commentary today:
"The National Republican Senatorial Committee has been testing dozens of potential messages that might claw back suburban voters who drifted toward Democrats during Donald Trump’s presidency, and lines of attack related to education show as much potential for the midterms as inflation, immigration and crime....
Although Joe Biden carried the commonwealth by 10 points last year — and is scheduled to campaign Tuesday with Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe — the latest poll, from Monmouth University, shows a tie. That survey found that schooling has surpassed covid to become the second-most-important issue, behind the economy. And after previously trailing, Youngkin has edged McAuliffe as being more trusted to handle education.
Democrats traditionally hold advantages on education, but parental anger at learning loss caused by school closures has shifted the landscape. Many moms and dads blame recalcitrant teachers unions, to whom the Democratic Party is beholden, for slow reopenings. Mask mandates in the classroom poll well but have added to tensions....
One reason Republican strategists are so high on the education messages is that they also play well with Latinos. The NRSC plan to win back the Senate involves retaining support from rural and non-college-educated Whites who moved toward the GOP under Trump, continuing to make inroads among Hispanics, and reversing the suburban slide among college-educated Whites. The three-pronged approach means Republicans do not need to recapture all the suburban voters who backed Mitt Romney in 2012 but shifted to Biden in 2020 in order to regain control of the Senate, which is currently divided 50-50."
This three-pronged approach makes excellent sense given recent political trends. It's the GOP's best bet. The McAuliffe-Youngkin election results should provide some early indication of the potential of this strategy. Keep your eye on the Virginia laboratory!
Saturday, October 23, 2021
I believe I've made this point before.
But it is good to see it underscored by a big data dump and analysis from Democracy Crops, Equis Strategies and HIT Strategies. I'm not crazy about all the data presented here and not sure the approach they recommend to the working class will be quite as efficacious as they think. But at least they asking the right question and have answers that are at least somewhat plausible.
"Policies that make families materially better off and tip balance of power to working people are the pathway to electoral success.
A sweeping nationwide study of working class voters shows Democrats can gain at the ballot box by emphasizing popular economic policies that help families thrive and make big corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes....
One of the most important findings was the discovery that the Democrats’ diverse base and persuadable working class voters have similar priorities for government. A key driver is the popularity of the new expanded Child Tax Credit that is very important to parents and white working class voters under 50 years of age.
Communities remain worried about crime and support messages that favor funding and respecting the police, while also ensuring abusive officers will be held accountable for their actions.
These shared priorities come from recognizing the Democrats’ base is overwhelmingly working class. Fully 70 percent of Black voters in HIT’s battleground survey did not have a four-year degree; even more, 75 percent in EquisLabs’ battleground states. Two-thirds of millennials/Gen Z, 69 percent of unmarried women and 57 percent of white unmarried women also lack a four-year degree.
Stanley Greenberg, founder of Democracy Corps with James Carville, said, “I guess, it’s the working class, stupid! "
May I recommend here my recent piece on The Power of the Working Class Vote? Reading it in conjunction with these new data may be enlightening.
"Nationally and in every state the working class vote is far larger than the college-educated vote. Because of this, if education polarization increases in the manner it has recently, with the college-educated moving toward the Democrats while the working class becomes more Republican, equal-sized shifts favor the GOP. For example, looking first at the national distribution, since the working class share of voters is 70 percent larger than the college-educated share (63 percent noncollege/37 percent college, according to 2020 Catalist data), if a one point increase in Democratic support among college voters is counter-balanced by a one point shift in support against the Democrats among the working class, the net effect would be to reduce the Democratic margin in the popular vote by half a point. If there were 5 point shifts for and against the Democrats in these two education groups, the Democratic margin would shrink by 2.5 points; if 10 point shifts for and against, the result would be a 5 point shrinkage.
This is the national situation. But the power of the working class vote is just as strong in most swing states. According to AP/VORC VoteCast data (Catalist data not yet available on the state level), the working class/college disproportion is even higher than the national average in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This is perhaps as one might expect.
But consider a state like Arizona. We are used to thinking of it in terms of its increasing race-ethnic diversity, which is helping drive political change in the state. But that trend obscures another fact: it’s still a heavily working class state, significantly above the national average. That means that shifts among working class voters in Arizona are potentially even more powerful than those described for the nation as a whole."