Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Who's Going To Win In November?


Meet Democraps Jon Ossoff, Conor Lamb and Andrew Janz

170 members of the American Political Science Association who specialize in presidential history participated in an annual poll that ranked every U.S. president. Trump displaced one-termer James Buchanan-- a pro-slavery Democrat from Pennsylvania-- as the nation's worst president. It was obvious from the second Putin installed him in the White House that he would wind up as the worst president ever... but this fast? In an interview yesterday on C-SPAN, historian Douglas Brinkley said "Trump represents kind of a dark underbelly of America." Richard Florida was less specific but tweeted yesterday that "In many ways, the US no longer qualifies as an advanced nation." The point he's been making since Trump took over is that this will ultimately limit ability America's "ability to attract global talent & improve its economic competitiveness."

The new Quinnipiac poll was released yesterday-- a birthday present for me. "American voters say 53 - 38 percent, including 47 - 36 percent among independent voters, they want the Democratic Party to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives this year. Voters say 54 - 39 percent, including 51 - 38 percent among independent voters, they want the Democrats to win control of the U.S. Senate this year." (That's the generic balloting people have been foolishly fretting about over the last month. That Democratic lead is 15 points. Is that why Florida Republican Tom Rooney announced he's retiring yesterday? Or wa sit because Vern Buchanan's lost a state legislative race last Tuesday to an unknown Democratic women in a district not all that far from Rooney's district? Or is because Rooney is still nauseated by Trump?

Not everybody is (nauseated by Trump). [Before we get back to Richard Florida, let me mention that last night Linda Belcher flipped the reddest district a Democrat has won since Trump got to the White House. Kentucky's state House District 49 (Bullitt County) gave Trump a colossal 72% of the vote in 2016. But yesterday voters helped Linda jturn it blue, winning the support of more than 68% of voters. How's that for a swing-- 86 points?] Now, back to Richard Florida. Last week he wrote a post on his blog, The Geography of Trump's First-Year Job Approval. "Trump’s average first-year approval rating," he noted "sits at a lowly 38 percent-- the worst of any president since Gallup started measuring presidential job approval in 1945. But this overall average belies huge variation in that approval rating across the 50 states, according to a recent Gallup poll based on surveys conducted throughout 2017. Indeed, Trump’s approval rating reaches above 60 percent in West Virginia and above 50 percent in 11 other states, including the Dakotas, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Alabama, and Oklahoma... [T]here is a broad Trump approval belt across the Plains, Appalachia, the Deep South, and parts of the Midwest, and a broad disapproval belt on the coasts and in New England, as well as in states like Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, and Minnesota... [T]his jagged geography of Trump’s approval rate mirrors the fundamental contours of America’s long-standing political, economic, and cultural divides."
Opinions of the president reflect the fundamental cleavage of class, which has long divided Americans along political as well as economic lines. Trump’s approval is overwhelmingly concentrated in less affluent, less educated, more working-class states. It is positively associated with the share of workers in blue-collar working-class jobs (0.76), and negatively associated with income (-0.72), wages (-0.79), education (measured as the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree and above, -0.86), and the share of workers doing knowledge, professional, or creative work (-0.72).

Contrary to the idea that support for Trump is a function of rising unemployment, there is no statistical association between Trump’s approval rate and a state’s unemployment rate. The conventional wisdom suggests that Trump’s rise was bolstered by those losing out from America’s gaping inequality. However, the data complicates that story. Approval of Trump is actually higher in states with lower levels of income inequality, approval being negatively correlated with the Gini coefficient measure of income inequality (-0.40). On the other hand, states with higher levels of inequality are much more likely to disapprove of Trump, with a positive correlation between income inequality and the share of people who disapprove of Trump (0.38).

Approval and disapproval of the president powerfully track America’s widening spatial divide. Approval is concentrated in less urbanized states, while disapproval is concentrated in denser, more urbanized ones. Trump’s approval rate is negatively correlated with two measures of urbanity: the urban share of population (-0.52), and to an even greater extent, the urban share of a state’s total land area (-0.62). (Interestingly, neither Trump’s approval nor his disapproval has any statistical connection to the overall population size of states.) Another dividing line is the car. Approval of the president is positively associated with the share of commuters who drive to work alone (0.45).

...Despite his record low level of overall approval, President Trump retains considerable support in traditionally conservative states in the Plains and Deep South and in parts of the Midwest. Trump’s approval rating is not a break with the past; its geography both reflects and reinforces the basic fault lines of class, geography, race, and culture that have long divided this country. If anything, Trump’s support has deepened America’s persistent red-blue divide.

All of this fits the pattern of Trump’s support as being premised on what Ron Brownstein, my colleague at The Atlantic, has aptly dubbed the “coalition of restoration”-- a geographically concentrated band of working class, white, suburban, and rural support that is bent upon restoring a bygone America.

This political backlash not only signals a more reactionary political agenda, it is also an agenda for economic retreat, undermining key pillars of America’s economic growth and rising living standards. “The much bigger, long-term danger is economic rather than political,” I wrote of the rising tide of conservatism in less prosperous states back in 2011. “American politics is increasingly disconnected from its economic engine. And this deepening political divide has become perhaps the biggest bottleneck on the road to long-run prosperity.”

This is far more the case today.
Not unrelated, the aforementioned Ron Brownstein wrote for CNN yesterday about the places that will decide the 2018 election. He wrote that control of the House will depend on what he calls "red pockets, Romneyland, and blue-collar blues."
Red Pockets

The clearest opportunity for Democrats is the relatively few remaining Republican-held districts in blue metro areas with large populations of college-educated whites, and in many cases substantial minority and youth populations as well. These are places crowded with voters who tilt toward liberal positions on social issues and recoil from Trump's volatile persona, particularly the way he talks about race.

The renewed visibility of gun control issues after the horrific Parkland, Florida, massacre could provide Democrats another lever in these districts, since the Republicans in them have almost universally voted with the National Rifle Association to loosen gun regulations in recent years.

These "red pockets" include the four seats Republicans control in Orange County -- the districts held by Mimi Walters and Dana Rohrabacher and the open seats that will be vacated by Darrell Issa and Ed Royce -- as well as their sole remaining seat in Los Angeles County, held by Steve Knight.

Others that fit this description include the seats in the western Chicago suburbs held by Republican Peter Roskam and in the eastern Denver suburbs held by Mike Coffman; the three suburban Philadelphia seats held by Ryan Costello, Mike Fitzpatrick and Pat Meehan (who has announced he will not seek re-election amid a sex scandal); the northern Virginia seat held by Barbara Comstock; two open seats in New Jersey as well as the one defended by Rep. Leonard Lance; Lee Zeldin's seat in eastern Long Island; the suburban Minneapolis seats now held by Jason Lewis and Erik Paulsen; the Seattle-area seat that Dave Reichert is leaving; as well as the Miami-area seat being vacated by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the nearby seat held by Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

Though Romney carried many of these seats-- often narrowly-- in 2012, Hillary Clinton won all of those listed above in 2016 except for the seats held by Lewis and Fitzpatrick, which Trump won by eyelash margins. These resemble the places where Democrats showed the most dramatic gains in 2017, for instance in their sweep of legislative seats and the huge margins they generated in the governor's race in northern Virginia.

Compounding the GOP's vulnerability, the new congressional map the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued Monday, after earlier ruling that the current district lines represented an impermissible gerrymander, strengthened the Democrats' hand in all three suburban Philadelphia seats.

For Republicans, the key in these booming districts will be whether the good economy helps them recapture voters recoiling from Trump's personal behavior. One complication is these blue-state upper-middle-class suburbs are among the most likely losers from the GOP tax plan, which limits the deductibility of mortgage interest and state and local taxes. Democrats are highly unlikely to win back the House without maximizing their gains in the red pockets.


The next bucket of seats is demographically similar to the red pockets but politically distinct because they are in metro areas that lean much more reliably toward the GOP.

I call this group of seats Romneyland because they are filled with voters who resemble Romney demographically and ideologically: professionals and corporate middle managers who want a president who will shrink government and even pursue a center-right social agenda, but also exude professionalism and decorum.

Romney won virtually every seat in this category in 2012. In 2016, Trump lost ground relative to Romney in almost all of them, though the residual Republican strength was great enough that he still carried many, albeit often narrowly.

The districts in this bucket include the Omaha-area seat held by Don Bacon; the seats in suburban Houston and outside Dallas held by John Culberson and Pete Sessions, respectively; the two suburban Atlanta seats held by Karen Handel and Rob Woodall; David Young's seat outside Des Moines; the Tucson-area seat Martha McSally is vacating to run for the Senate from Arizona; the Lexington, Kentucky-area seat held by Andy Barr; the seats outside Detroit that Dave Trott is vacating and Mike Bishop is defending; and Kevin Yoder's seat in suburban Kansas City, Kansas.

These seats are not immune from the forces threatening the Republicans in the red pockets: Handel, for instance, only narrowly survived last June's special election in Georgia, though her predecessor Tom Price had carried over 60% of the vote there as recently as 2016.

But as Handel's slim victory over Democrat Jon Ossoff showed, Republicans have more of a cushion in these places than in the red pockets. That's partly because more of the white-collar whites in them are social conservatives than their counterparts in the Democratic-leaning metro areas.

Blue-collar blues

The third key test for Democrats is the districts I call "blue-collar blues." These are the blue-collar, exurban, small town and rural seats in states that generally lean Democratic.

These include Republican seats held by John Faso, John Katko and Claudia Tenney in upstate New York; Mike Bost, Rodney Davis and Randy Hultgren in downstate Illinois; the northeast Iowa seat of Rod Blum; Bruce Poliquin's northern Maine district; and the Central Valley, California, seats of Jeff Denham and David Valadao.

These seats present an especially revealing test for Democrats. Former President Barack Obama carried almost all of them at least once and many of them have elected Democratic House members in the recent past. But House Democrats were routed in these places in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections under Obama, and almost all of these districts turned further toward Trump in 2016.

The 2017 results in Virginia and Alabama showed Democrats almost completely failing to crack the GOP's hold on blue-collar and rural voters. But some Democrats argue that terrain is much tougher for the party in the South than in the Northeastern and Midwestern states where these competitive House seats are concentrated.

Democrats see an opening in polling, such as the 2017 average of Gallup's daily approval ratings for Trump, that shows a significant erosion in his support across the Rust Belt among working-class white women, even as he remains very strong among blue-collar white men. Converting that female disillusionment with Trump into votes for Democratic congressional candidates is likely the key to seriously contesting the "blue-collar blue" seats.

One early test will be March's special election in the heavily blue-collar southwestern Pennsylvania district that Republican Rep. Tim Murphy has vacated: Democrat Conor Lamb, a former Marine, is running competitively against Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in a district Trump carried by nearly 20 percentage points.
The Democrats' advantage: in like a lion, out like a Lamb

There he's wrong. Conor Lamb, as we mentioned yesterday, is a truly shit candidate, wrong for the district, wrong for the energy of the day, perfect for the Beltway Democratic establishment and nothing more. Trump-hatred may swing the district towards the Democrats somewhat but Lamb and his campaign are fighting that swing with every move they make. Candidates and campaigns matter. The more garbage candidates like Jon Ossoff and Conor Lamb the DC Democrats nominate, the safer the Republican majority will be. Yesterday, Lamb shot himself in the foot again. This from him... in a district he might have had a chance to win if he had won back the union vote: "I think [$15 an hour] sounds high based on what I’ve been told by many small business owners in our area. I would rather see something that was agreed on by both sides." Republicans already have their candidate. The Democrats desperately need one.

More candidates, for example, like Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), who happened to mention this to me today: "The Democrats must deserve victory. We should contrast a politics of restoration with a politics of preparing the nation for the future. And we should have candidates run on a bold platform of a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, regulating magazine clips and an assault weapons ban, supporting net neutrality, making college debt free as Robert Reich has proposed, and strong antitrust enforcement. These policies have broad support among people and particularly younger voters. We need a clear contrast and to stand for a substantive agenda to win."

I'm not 100% sure what category Austin Frerick's Iowa district would be in, but I asked him to take a look and he sent me a note saying that "Folks in Romneyland to those in the blue-collar blue areas loves our economic concentration message. Who doesn't want fair, free, and competitive markets? Only the robber barons of this era don't like this message. It just takes courage to stand up and say enough is enough and refuse that dirty money." As you can probably guess, he's more like a Ro Khanna candidate than from the confused Ossoff GOP-lite school.

UPDATE: How To Win In A Trump District

David Gill has a prescription: "Even in my district (IL-13), which Trump carried by 5 points, voters will respond to a message from a Democrat that actually addresses their concerns-- that's why I came within 0.3% of victory here in 2012, while all other Democrats have lost here by 50 to 60 times that margin. My message of single-payer healthcare, a $15/hour minimum wage, and tuition-free access to public higher education & trade schools resonates with voters here, whether they consider themselves left, right, or somewhere in between. If I can once again get by the corporate-funded establishment Democrats in the primary, as in 2012, I have little doubt that I can succeed in November."

Labels: , , , , , , ,


At 6:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You left out the obvious corollation with trump support: education.

Where there are colleges/universities and enclaves of educated workers, trump stinks like an ocean of fetid pig shit.
Where there are vast numbers of ignorant, mal-educated and downright stupid white (largely male) dipshits, trump enjoys his greatest support.
Where there are the most religious (Christian, natch.), trump still enjoys wide support, though I apologize for being redundant with the previous point.

There is also almost a 100% correlation between the existence of vibrant racist groups and trump support.

Of course, there is also a big statistical correlation between stupidity, religion and racism.

"...Trump’s approval rate mirrors the fundamental contours of America’s long-standing political, economic, and cultural divides."
This summation as well as the entire piece serves to somewhat "whitewash" parts of the truth. As it has been for decades, Americans' race to the bottom in education has a lot to do with it. Candidates like palin, trump, ted cruz, Louis gomert, Bachmann, Virginia fox and a thousand others serve to prove the thesis. And as the voters get dumber and their elected (mostly white) asswipes get dumber, they've also become much more overtly xenophobic, reflecting their white electorates.
And where hate becomes open and accepted, there must be religion to sanctify that hate.

A question for DWT: Back when the special election was brewing, you sang the praises of Ossof despite the fact that he quickly and totally sold out to the democraps for campaign money. Now you call him, correctly, a democrap.
Was there ever an introspective mea culpa published?

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Polls showed HER! winning by a landslide - until she lost.

There is far too much reliance upon polls, and little verification that the results come close to a reasonable standard of accuracy. That deficiency is upon lazy pollsters. This horse race mentality which smothers real discussion of the issues during elections is totally to blame on too many polls chasing too little real information, and then handing it all off to corrupt corporate media to distort and twist as their owners see fit.


Post a Comment

<< Home