Friday, December 18, 2015


Martin Longman thinks Republicans are going to have a struggle in 2016, because electoral trends are in the Democrats' favor:
One of the fundamental errors of analysis that Republican strategists made in 2012 was their presumption that African-American voters would be less enthusiastic about reelecting Barack Obama than they had been about electing him in the first place. This presumption was relied upon heavily by everyone from Dick Morris to Karl Rove to Mitt Romney. It was basically wrong. While Romney got a slightly higher percentage of the black vote than John McCain, turnout was extremely strong. And it was enough to help Obama win Ohio and prevent a nail-biter on election night.

Their analysts seem to be going down the same path now, assuming that without Obama on the ballot, black turnout will nosedive. I’m going to warn then now that this is a dangerous hypothesis. The president will be lobbying African-Americans heavily to turn out and protect his accomplishments, and it is a message that will deeply resonate. Any electoral strategy that relies on blacks sitting out the 2016 election is grasping at straws.
I agree that black voters will show strong support for Hillary Clinton. I think Hispanic voters will turn out as well.

It's the rest of the Democratic coalition I'm worried about.

Longman quotes this Wall Street Journal story, titled "How Democrats Could Win the White House Again in 2016":
“Ohio went Democratic (in 2012) because Republican support was tepid among whites and [Democratic support] full-throttled among minorities,” [Demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution] said. “Republicans will have to push as many older whites out [to vote] as possible in the Northern states where they may have a shot.”
Um, yeah, that's right. But have you seen what white people have done at the ballot box in non-presidential elections, not just in Ohio but in other Midwestern states Obama won twice?

There are Republican governors in Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Iowa -- all elected since Barack Obama's first victory, and all of whom replaced Democrats. Republicans also hold the governors' mansions in the deep-blue presidential states of Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Maine, and New Mexico.

But is Hillary Clinton really in trouble in states Obama won handily? Well, consider the latest Public Policy Polling survey of Iowa:
PPP's new general election poll in Iowa finds mixed results for Hillary Clinton. She leads 3 of the Republicans we tested against her- 46/41 over Jeb Bush, 45/42 over Carly Fiorina, and 45/43 over Donald Trump. And she also ties Ben Carson at 45. But she trails Ted Cruz 47/44 and has a larger deficit against Marco Rubio at 48/41.
She loses to Cruz by 7 points. And even Ted Cruz beats her. And she barely beats Donald Trump. (Recall that Obama beat Mitt Romney by 6 in Iowa in 2012, and beat John McCain by 10 in 2008.)

And please note this, from Greg Sargent:
There is a striking finding in the new NBC/Wall Street Journal [national] poll: Marco Rubio is tied with Hillary Clinton among young voters. Given the importance of Barack Obama’s overwhelming margins among young voters to his two victories -- and, more broadly, given that Democrats are betting the future of the party on their rising coalition of young voters and minorities -- this is something Democrats should probably start paying attention to right now.
That's an exact tie, 45%-45%.

And on a key issue Clinton is emphasizing, young people really don't seem to be on the same page as the Democrats. Did you see that recent ABC/Washington Post poll in which a plurality of Americans, for the first time in the history of the survey, said they opposed an assault weapons ban? Here's a key finding:
Seniors are most likely to favor banning assault weapons, while -- despite their greater liberalism on many other issues -- nearly six in 10 young adults oppose it.
Yes, check the numbers: 18-29-year-olds oppose an assault weapons ban 59%-39%. Whites oppose a ban 56%-42%. Males oppose a ban 62%-35%. Zandar sees this as a harbinger of future voting, and he may be right:
... Democrats shouldn't count on Millennials, particularly white ones, as a source of voters in the future. They've made their bed, especially white men.
And I haven't even mentioned the GOP's incessant efforts to suppress the vote among blacks and Hispanics.

Am I saying the Democrats are doomed in 2016? No. I just don't believe that the 2008/2012 map is set in concrete. If Democrats are running against someone other than Trump -- and possibly even if they're running against Trump -- they're going to have to go out and work to win a lot of Obama states. And it's not going to be easy.


AllieG said...

There's never been an election that didn't take hard work to win. Obama got 53 and 51 percent of the votes in his two wins. He didn't breeze to landslide victories. Anyone who assumes he did is both insulting his political skills and being foolish.
Steve I believe you would be doing your analyses a favor if you stop citing (and cherry picking) all polls until next September.

Steve M. said...

Well, tell that to people arguing that Democrats have a built-in demographic advantage that will almost certainly trump everything. Those observers are citing polls, too -- 2008 and 2012 exit polls (but not exit polls from 2010 and 2014, or 2004 for that matter, which was the last year voters were as pants-wetting scared of terrorism as they are now). I'm just citing polls overtly, and citing polls conducted more recently.

AllieG said...

I agree, those people are wrong, too. But considering that even the primary polls are super premature, the general election polls are just so much guesswork. They are at present superfluous to your point, which I did agree with. It'll be a close election because they all are now.

Never Ben Better said...

A minor point, Steve, but one you should keep in mind when citing Republican control of governorships: The Massachusetts situation is not reflective of national trends for GOP control of state government. The state legislature is still overwhelmingly Democratic, despite three House Speakers in a row getting into ethics trouble. (Congressional officeholders are also overwhelmingly Democratic.) Charlie Baker is about as far as you can get from a Paul LePage type of rabid Republican reactionary; he established himself as moderate-to-socially-liberal and a highly competent executive as a cabinet minister for two previous GOP governors and the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. He was broadly popular in the state even before winning the governorship, and currently has about a 72 percent approval rating -- and I have to say, as a staunch Democrat, that he's doing a good job in office.

Also, his Democratic opponent was Martha Coakley.

Steve M. said...

Fair point about Massachusetts (and it has a history of electing moderate Republican governors, e.g., William Weld).

Never Ben Better said...

Forgot to add: Baker is tall, good-looking, and has a warm and genial personality that connects easily with people, plus a willingness to own his mistakes without being defensive or shuffling the blame off onto underlings.

Ha! Looking into his biography, I see that his father was a conservative REpublican (New England variety of some decades ago) and his mother was a liberal Democrat. This could explain a lot.

Never Ben Better said...

Yes, Steve, and Weld was one of the governors Baker served under.

swkellogg said...

The assault weapons ban thing is a little disconcerting. Probably due to too much time spent playing "Call of Duty" and living in a culture that fetishizes all things military.

Still, I doubt most of the kids are single issue voters and even if they are, guns are probably not their priority issue.

AllieG said...

Wonder what their reaction would be to the question, would you support reinstating the draft?

swkellogg said...


I think our venture in Vietnam answered that question.

Victor said...

Maybe if I drink long & hard enough, I won't give a shit,

Sadly, I don't have the money........

Ten Bears said...

Did for me. I'm all for a draft. Want to make War? Send your kids, as well as mine.