Friday, January 28, 2022

Independents' Day

If next November 8 is Independents' Day in the country, the Democrats could be in serious trouble. John Halpin explains at The Liberal Patriot.
"American politics is increasingly determined by the actions and attitudes of Independents. Partisans on both sides of the aisle reliably align their voting habits, beliefs, and leader evaluations with their respective parties. Democrats mostly like if not love Joe Biden and his agenda, and Republicans mostly hate Joe Biden and his agenda. Not surprising.
One of the most important trends for political analysts then is how Independents are tracking: are they lined up more with Democrats and their positions, or more with Republicans? On this front, President Biden is tanking—badly.
Independents’ views of Biden, and on the economy and Covid-related policies, are much more aligned with Republicans than Democrats, albeit not as intensely. This public image deficiency with Independents should occupy the minds of Democrats and the White House. If Biden’s image does not improve with these important voters over the next few months, Democrats can expect serious losses in congressional elections this fall."
Read the whole thing at The Liberal Patriot!

Thursday, January 27, 2022

What Would the Working Class Say? (WWWCS)

My attempt to create a meme to lead the Dems down the right path--my latest at The Liberal Patriot. We'll see if it works.
"All across the Western world the working class is deserting the Left. Thomas Piketty and his colleagues among others have copiously documented this trend. The United States is no exception to this trend.
In the 2020 Presidential election, despite a slight improvement over 2016, Democrats still lost white working class (noncollege) voters in 2020 by 26 points (Catalist two party vote). Since 2012, nonwhite working class voters have shifted away from the Democrats by 18 margin points, with a particularly sharp shift in the last election and particularly among Hispanics. This latter development is particularly important since Democrats have hitherto comforted themselves that losses among the working class were just among whites, who they presume to be motivated by retrograde racial and cultural attitudes. That is no longer a tenable view.
Since the 2020 election, the situation has only worsened. Signs of continued slippage among working class voters were unmistakable in the 2021 elections, most notably among Hispanic and Asian working class voters. In the latest Monmouth poll, Biden’s approval rating among the multiracial working class was an abysmal 32 percent vs. 59 percent disapproval, compared to 52 percent approval among the college-educated.
This performance among working class voters should be unacceptable for a party of the left. After all, what is the point of a left party that cannot command the loyalty of the working class and therefore plausibly claim to represent its interests? And in raw electoral terms, worsening performance among working class voters makes the Democrats’ quest for political dominance essentially impossible, since the share of working class voters in the country is 70 percent larger than the share of college-educated voters.
To help remedy this situation, I suggest a simple test Democrats should be continually making on both their policies and rhetoric: What Would the Working Class Say? (WWWCS). This test is not so hard to do but it does entail getting outside of the liberal college-educated bubble so many Democrats live within, particularly as experienced on social media, in activist circles and within advocacy, nonprofit, media and academic institutions. Look at actual public opinion data—not as summarized by someone you know or something you read. Look at focus group reports. Talk to actual working class people—there are lots of them! Listen to your intuitions about how working class people would likely react to policies and rhetoric currently associated with the Democrats —not how you think they should react. Think of family members or people you grew up with who are working class. Try to get inside their heads. They are less ideological, more focused on material concerns, more likely to be struggling economically, less interested in cutting edge social issues, more patriotic and generally more culturally conservative. All this makes a difference."
Read the whole thing at The Liberal Patriot...and subscribe!

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Liberal Samizdat?

I quite liked this part in the intro to my interview for the Times On Politics newsletter:
"[A]s President Biden sinks in the polls, Teixeira finds himself fighting against what he says is a caricature of his famous book [The Emerging Democratic Majority]. His Substack newsletter, The Liberal Patriot, delivers “no-holds-barred, reality-based analysis,” unafraid to take on what he calls a “race-essentialist” dogma that is dominating the Democratic Party.
Teixeira is unsparing about the party strategists who he believes are leading Democrats astray — and unapologetic about offending many on his own side. His newsletter has become a kind of samizdat for like-minded liberals who aren’t as willing to speak their minds.
“There are some people who think I’ve completely lost it,” he told us in a wide-ranging interview about his book, his party and lessons not yet learned. “But I feel like we’re making some progress.”
Read the interview; if you haven't already. I think it came out pretty well.
And if it's samizdat....pass it on!

Monday, January 24, 2022

Want to Win? Study Up!

The good folks at The Welcome Party have put together a "syllabus" for big tent Democrats who want to win. Their picks are all worth your time. Given the current situation, it can't hurt to study up a bit.
"Where do you send someone who wants to know how Democrats can win?
On the far-left, there are plenty of options if you want to join a book club with the Democratic Socialists or get regular emails on policy topics like abolishing private health insurance. Trump has rallies and boat parades. The center-right has The Bulwark and other burgeoning communities.
Big-tent Democrats may not have boat parades or swag, but there is foundational reading.
Below are our top ten reads to lay out the need for and path towards a big-tent Democratic Party. Please let us know additions that can help normies get up to speed on our reality and what can be done about it."

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman at Sabato's Crystal Ball have an excellent, empirically well-informed roundup of the five key warning signs for Biden and the Democrats after that first year in office. Here's #2, but they're all important!
2. Biden is having trouble with key subgroups
"According an analysis from the Democratic data firm Catalist, as well as exit polls and granular precinct-level analysis, Joe Biden performed worse with nonwhite voters in 2020 compared to Hillary Clinton’s showing in 2016. Ruy Teixeira, a Democratic electoral demographics expert whom we deeply respect, has sounded the alarm bells for his party in recent items for the publication the Liberal Patriot analyzing Democratic problems with both Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans.
Broadly speaking, Biden’s numbers with people of color appear to be weak across the board. Let’s put this in some perspective, first.
There were 2 major exit polls of the 2020 election. One was from Edison Research on behalf of several major news organizations. The other was from NORC at the University of Chicago on behalf of the Associated Press and Fox News. While they differed somewhat in their findings, they each found that Biden won a little more than 70% of the vote among voters of color (defined here as those who do not identify as non-Hispanic white), while Biden won a bit over 40% of the white vote.
Compare that to what some polls are telling us about how Biden is viewed now. Reuters/Ipsos finds Biden with a 45% approve/50% disapprove split, a bit better than the averages. That poll splits respondents into white and nonwhite groups: Biden’s approval split with white adults is 41%/54%, not that different from the white vote overall in 2020. But his approval with nonwhites is just 52%/42% — still positive overall but a steep drop from what the exit polls told us about his level of electoral support with the nonwhite voting bloc in 2020.
This has some implications for Democrats if weaker Biden approval among nonwhite voters translates into weaker electoral performance and/or turnout (Democrats often fret about nonwhite turnout in non-presidential election years anyway). For instance, we rate 3 Democratic-held Senate seats as Toss-ups: Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada. The electorates in all 3 of these states have very important nonwhite voting blocs.
Though younger voters tend to turn out at lower rates than seniors, Democrats were aided in the 2018 midterms by a relatively engaged youth bloc. But after a year in office, Biden’s standing with the 18 to 29 year-old demographic has weakened. In December, the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School put the president’s approval spread at 46%/51% with voters under 30. According to the estimates from Catalist, Biden carried that group with 62% in 2020. To be sure, Harvard found Trump’s favorables with younger voters are at a horrid 30%/63% spread, and it’s easy to see Biden winning the youth vote handily in a rematch — but that is less relevant for 2022’s elections, as Democrats will not have the luxury of running against an unpopular Trump, although the former president may be active on the campaign trail."
They conclude:
"After negotiations stalled on Build Back Better, congressional Democrats are beginning the year with a focus on voting rights — they have also vowed that they have not given up on the former. But both items face uphill battles and are perceived as more partisan than other legislation that passed Congress last year. Republicans, meanwhile, will likely maintain that the administration is more focused on placating Democratic partisans than on curbing inflation or tending to other national priorities.
Re-orienting his and Democrats’ agenda on these issues could be helpful to Biden, but that is much easier said than done.
Five Warning Signs for Biden as He Marks First Anniversary in Office – Sabato's Crystal Ball
Five Warning Signs for Biden as He Marks First Anniversary in Office – Sabato's Crystal Ball
Five Warning Signs for Biden as He Marks First Anniversary in Office Reviewing Biden's (and Democrats') numbers after a difficult first year By

Friday, January 21, 2022

The Return of Political Realism

As it becomes ever clearer that the Biden presidency never had the transformational potential assigned to it by many Democrats in and out of the administration, it is perhaps time to cast comforting illusions aside and look clear-eyed at political reality.
Two articles today are helpful. Nate Cohn looks at the non-FDRness of Biden's time and Biden's actions:
"Joseph R. Biden Jr. was supposed to be another Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democratic president who enacted transformative liberal legislation and in doing so built a lasting political coalition....
Rather than following Mr. Roosevelt’s playbook and focusing relentlessly on the crises facing the nation and voters, Mr. Biden’s efforts have shifted from the pandemic and the economy to also pursue longstanding Democratic policy goals — universal prekindergarten, climate change, voting rights, a child tax credit.
Even if those proposals are needed or important, they do not rank high on the list of the public’s demands at the heart of a pandemic and with rising inflation. Only 33 percent of voters say the president is focused on the issues they “care a lot about,” according to a recent CBS/YouGov poll.
The decision to prioritize the goals of his party’s activist base over the issues prioritized by voters is more reminiscent of the last half-century of politically unsuccessful Democratic presidents than of Mr. Roosevelt himself....
It is a presidency aimed at matching Mr. Roosevelt’s transformative legacy while forgetting the most basic, high school history class lesson about the root of the New Deal’s political appeal: It was designed to meet the challenges of the moment.
While liberals cherish the New Deal for expanding the role of government, the core of its political success was its focus on addressing an immediate crisis facing the nation — the shuttered banks, failing farms and mass unemployment of the Great Depression."
Matt Yglesias has some ideas about what a more realistic approach might be at this point for the Democrats:
"For Mr. Biden and his team to give Democrats a fighting chance and turn his numbers around before electoral disaster strikes, they need to keep two slightly paradoxical thoughts in mind. First, Mr. Biden is governing in extraordinary times, but his presidency is still governed by the normal rules of American politics. Second, generating a feeling of normalcy around American politics and daily life — as he promised to do during the campaign — would itself be a transformative change....
Yet even when it turned out that the [pre-election] polls were off and his victory was much narrower than expected, Mr. Biden never really let go of the dream of a transformative 1930s-style presidency, though he clearly lacked the large legislative majorities to deliver on a New Deal or Great Society....
When all is said and done, the frustrations of the Biden supporters who want a return to normal are more politically significant than those of the more progressive crowd who yearn for transformation.
That means more focus on the short-term economic situation. The good news on inflation is that the gasoline price spike of 2021 is unlikely to occur a second time, and the Federal Reserve is likely to pivot into inflation-fighting mode as well. But there are risks, too, from economic disruptions in China, and monetary policy efforts to curb inflation could do too much to curb real growth as well.
The fate of Mr. Biden’s presidency — and if you believe the dire warnings of many Democrats and academics, of the republic itself — hinges less on the fate of legacy items like Build Back Better or a renewed voting rights act than it does on the normal procession of macroeconomic events. Unfortunately for Mr. Biden, no president has control over them entirely — but pushing for a final version of the bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which contains provisions to strengthen the semiconductor supply chain, could be helpful.
It means more attention to classic Biden themes of patriotism, bipartisanship and normalcy, and fewer headlines dominated by high-profile squeeze plays against moderate senators.
Most of what has happened to Mr. Biden has been very normal. But if Democrats take their own fears about the opposition party seriously, they should be very worried about the consequences of the normal cycle of overreach and backlash, and try harder to surprise the country by doubling down on normalcy."
It all reminds me of something I wrote at the beginning of the year in one of my first contributions to The Liberal Patriot:
"Biden got 51 percent of the vote in 2020, enough to win the election, but hardly a dominant majority. And Democrats’ downballot performance was distinctly inferior, leading to disappointing performance in Senate, House and state legislative races. The Biden administration now confronts a divided country racked by twin pandemic and economic crises. In the not so far distance looms the 2022 midterm elections where an incoming Presidential administration traditionally loses ground. The last time Democrats faced this situation in 2010 they suffered massive losses....
[Democratic success] can only run through a successful attack on the pandemic and economic crises. Really for the next period of time nothing else is important. Not immigration reform. Not criminal justice reform. Not climate change. Not child poverty. Not executive orders. Not Trump’s trial. Either solve the twin crises or prepare yourself for the wrath of voters who will, not unreasonably, think you have failed them. The Biden coalition will shrink, not expand and all the great ideas progressives have for improving the country will come to naught."
In retrospect, it appears I might have been on to something.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

What Democrats Actually Should Be Doing As Opposed to What They Are Doing

Peter Juul at The Liberal Patriot suggests a wiser course of action that holds some promise for getting the Democrats out of their current hole.
"It’s safe to say that President Biden hasn’t had the best of winters. His two main legislative priorities – the Build Back Better legislation and a voting rights bill – appear stalled. The omicron variant of COVID-19 sent cases skyrocketing across the country amidst a shortage of tests to detect the virus, though thankfully cases appear to have peaked and free tests will start shipping through the U.S. Postal Service by the end of the month. Inflation hit seven percent in December, the highest rate since 1982, and the third straight month with more than six percent increase in prices. To top it all off, Russia appears dead set on starting a full-blown war with Ukraine.
No wonder President Biden’s approval rating has bottomed out just a year into his presidency. A recent CBS poll, for instance, showed just 44 percent of the public approving of Biden’s performance – a first-year rating that bests only former President Trump’s dismal 37 percent. That poll also gives us a good indication of why the public mood has turned so sour one year into the Biden administration: a perceived lack of focus on the two issues Americans care most about, the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation. Fully two-thirds of the public says the administration isn’t focused enough on inflation and that the fight against the pandemic is going badly. Making matters worse, 57 percent of Americans say the information provided by public health officials is confusing....
While most Americans remain focused on the persistent threats of COVID and inflation, the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress find themselves in a legislative quagmire of their own making. The passage of the landmark Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November has been overshadowed since by bickering among Democrats over the Build Back Better legislation, voting rights, and the fate of the Senate filibuster that’s stymied progress on both fronts. Nor have fiery presidential speeches and jawboning behind closed doors conjured up the necessary votes for these bills.
As a matter of both politics and policy, the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress need to rededicate themselves to the two issues that the public cares most about: the pandemic and the economy. As John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira have argued, the public cares little for the actually-existing-version of Build Back Better put forward by Congressional Democrats and doesn’t see voting rights as an existential priority in the same way as progressive activists. Worse, a failure to effectively address pressing public concerns about the pandemic and the economy threaten to undermine support for active government in the future."