Monday, March 25, 2019

Is Status Quo Joe The Most Electable Against Trump? There's No Reason To Think So


Most Americans dislike-- or detest-- Donald Trump (57-39%) so it's not unreasonable to believe he will fail to be reelected next year, even though most sitting presidents are reelected. (In most of our lifetimes, only Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush were denied reelection.) Last year, nearly ten million more voters went for a Democrat in the House elections than for a Republican-- the biggest margin in U.S. history. There were 60,727,598 votes for Democrats (53.4%) and 50,983,895 votes for Republicans (44.8%).

The Democratic Party establisment and a lazy media call that a blue wave, rather than what actually was-- an anti-red/anti-Trump wave. There are reasons to believe the 2020 anti-red/anti-Trump wave will be much bigger. In 2018, Democratic candidates across the country had to tackle scores of locally popular incumbents with stellar records of constituent services that went back decades. In the presidential election next year, it will just be a Democrat against, arguably, the most hated man to ever occupy the White House. The 8.6% Democratic advantage in 2018 should certainly be a double digit advantage for the Democrat in 2020.

Hillary beat Trump by 2,868,686 votes-- 65,853,514 (48.2%) to 62,984,828 (46.1%). That margin can be explained by the results in the 3 biggest states: California, where Hillary had 4,269,978 more votes than Trump; Texas, where Trump's 807,179 vote margin was a severe underperformance (Romney beat Obama in Texas by 1,261,719 votes and even McCain's margin over Obama was 950,695); and New York, where Hillary beat Trump by 1,736,590 votes. Narrow, unexpected Trump wins-- for whatever reason (Russian interference or her lameness as a candidate)-- in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan gave Trump 46 electoral votes, without which Hillary would have won in the electoral college 273 to 258.

From Sunday's Fox News poll

Polling right now shows 2 top candidates, Biden and Bernie, with two more within striking distance: Beto and Kamala. A majority of Democratic voters tell pollsters their number one criteria in the primaries will be electability. Over the weekend, writing for The Atlantic, Peter Beinart didn't disagree with that premise, only that the pundits don't know how to gage electability. Polls in 2016 uniformly predicted Hillary would do better than Bernie against Trump. Those polls-- like the polls that had her sure she would be the first woman president in history-- were wrong. In the general election against Trump, Bernie would have certainly won Wisconsin and Michigan, both of which he won in the primaries and there are no states that Hillary won that he would have lost. Would he have won Pennsylvania? Iowa? Even Ohio? We'll never know. "Electability," wrote Beinart, "is extremely hard to predict. And when pundits discuss it, they often rely on unstated and dubious assumptions-- which usually lead them to predict that the most centrist candidate with the most establishment support is the person general-election voters will like best." That's how we wound up with the 2016 loser.

Beinart has a suggestion for journalists, the same one Chris Hayes made last month: "All this glib talk about electability has a cost. It leads commentators, often implicitly, to give “electable” candidates a pass when their policy views are fuzzy or flat-out wrong. So what should journalists do? It’s simple: Spend less time discussing which candidates can win the presidency and more time discussing what they’d do if they actually won."
To grasp how questionable much of the discourse surrounding “electability” is, consider the two candidates who, according to conventional wisdom, are considered best able to defeat Trump in 2020. The first is Joe Biden. The reason: As a Washington Post headline put it last fall, “Biden Appeals to Working-Class Whites Who Defected to Trump.”

But does he really? The evidence suggests that most of the voters who supported Barack Obama and then Trump are not Democrats who “defected” to Trump. They’re Republicans or Republican-leaning independents who “defected” to Obama and in the years since have grown ever more ensconced in the GOP. So it’s not clear that any Democratic candidate could lure many of them away from Trump next year.

Nor is it obvious that Biden would be best suited to doing so. Yes, his race and gender might prove an advantage. Yes, he might be harder to tar as a socialist radical. But Biden supported NAFTA and the Iraq War, and he’s been a Washington insider for almost a half century. In 2016, Trump voters expressed their deep pessimism about the state of the country by voting for radical disruption. If some have now lost faith in Trump, and thus grown even more disillusioned with politics than they were before, wouldn’t they look for a different species of disrupter, perhaps an anti-establishment populist such as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren? Why go for the Democratic candidate who, more than almost any other, represents the pre-Trump status quo?

And even if Biden did prove better able to win back working-class whites than his competitors, could he rouse the Democratic Party’s African American and female base? The fact that his advisers are reportedly considering asking Stacey Abrams to be his running mate suggests that they themselves have doubts. But if choosing Abrams boosts Biden among women and people of color, why wouldn’t it hurt him among white men who backed Trump? Do these questions mean Biden is less electable than other candidates? Not at all. What they mean is that we really don’t know.

It’s the same with Beto O’Rourke. His boosters say he’s like Obama: appealing to moderate whites because of his unifying, upbeat message, but also rousing to progressives, who find him idealistic and inspirational. As one Democratic bundler told Politico, “He’s Barack Obama, but white.” But the white part matters. You can’t assume O’Rourke is more electable than Kamala Harris or Cory Booker without explaining how O’Rourke could match the epic African American turnout numbers that Obama elicited in 2008 and 2012, but that Clinton did not match in 2016.

Moreover, saying that O’Rourke would appeal to “moderate” or “centrist” whites glosses over a critical distinction: It depends on which “moderates” we’re talking about. O’Rourke’s cultural liberalism, pro-business background, and unifying, optimistic rhetoric might serve him well among the upper-middle-class Democrats and independents who admire Michael Bloomberg. But is a candidate who has backed Trade Promotion Authority and praised NAFTA best suited to winning back working-class voters in the industrial midwestern states that gave Trump the presidency? In a recent interview with Thomas B. Edsall of the New York Times, Paul A. Sracic, a political scientist at Youngstown State University, suggested that “O’Rourke’s vague, ‘We all need to come together’ message will not resonate with people who see life as a battle. Working class voters believe in pugilistic politics.” Why is Sracic’s take less plausible than that breathless Democratic bundler’s?

Anyone can play this game. Maybe Sanders is the most electable because his pugilism can win over anti-establishment, anti-corporate Trump voters while eliciting a vast turnout among Millennials? Maybe Warren is the most electable because she’s as passionate as Bernie but more substantive and less radical, and she’ll inspire women as well? Maybe Harris is the most electable because she can replicate Obama’s massive African American numbers while pivoting to the center in a way white candidates can’t? Maybe Booker is the most electable because his message is as positive and unifying as O’Rourke’s, but he’ll do better among African Americans, and his unabashed religiosity will prove a secret weapon with evangelicals?

All these narratives are superficially plausible, and all of them could be nonsense. No one knows. And by embracing some while dismissing others, journalists-- sometimes unwittingly-- create a double standard for evaluating candidates. It’s fine that O’Rourke is less substantive than Warren, political handicappers imply, because he’s better able to beat Trump, which is what matters most. Let’s not credit Sanders for opposing the Iraq War, which Biden supported, because it’s better to nominate a more hawkish Democrat who can win than a dove who will lose.

The irony is that many political commentators think it’s easier to have an informed opinion about electability than about policy. It’s actually harder. If you want to know which candidate was correct about deregulation or the Iraq War, or whose health-care plan will cover the most people at the lowest cost, you can talk to experts, assemble facts, and come to a reasonable conclusion. Deciding which candidate can best beat Trump is more like looking at someone’s zodiac sign and predicting his or her future. It may be a fun hobby, but it’s a distraction from useful work.

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At 6:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again analyzing biden.

If biden is the 'most electable', that too is a symptom of the total rot in our system and society.

the "election" of trump, thanks to a quorum of Nazi evil voters and antidemocratic biases built into our quasi-democratic system, was also a symptom. Like the full body rashes you may have seen when the teevee machine was covering the measles outbreak. You cannot miss it. It's right there in front of you... and if you're the victim of the disease, you're miserable because of it.

But that doesn't mean we're ever going to fix it or solve it or even talk about the real issues.

AOC, part of the fundamental problem, doesn't get it:

another 'crap candidate, part of the problem, can't get there either:

Yeah, 62 million americans are pure evil, driven by hate and pretty much nothing else... and they always vote. Their party suppresses voters, cheats, commits fraud, and lies to these 62 million morons as they serve ONLY the capitalists. But their hate is validated, so they all get exactly what they want.

But the rest, 260 million+, get ratfucked too. So, one might wonder why the 160 million+ who could vote don't simply elect people who will prevent all that ratfucking.

Well, only about 65 million of those 160 million actually bother to vote. Might be a clue there.
And those 65 million NEVER insist that whomever they elect actually, you know, does what they are elected to do. These voters only vote because they don't want the Nazis. The PARTY these 65 million have kept in power, simply because they are NOT the Nazis, have refused to serve ANY of the interests of THEIR electorate for 40 years.
So... the only possible conclusion is that these 65 million are completely brain dead... dumbest people to ever claim inclusion as homo sapiens.

That leaves 95 million or so who do not vote. Why is a very good question. Certainly there are some who are just too lazy (in fucking AMERICA?!), but I've been presuming that an awful lot of them just have nobody in either sect of the money party deserving of their vote.

In 2016 there were shy of 5 million who voted, but for "other" candidates. I cannot say if that might be trending up or not. 2018 indicated it is not.

So there you have it. Nazis are part of the problem. democraps are a part of the problem.

the problem is voters are stupid and evil and lazy.

At 8:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Republicans weren't so ocious, why would anyone consider voting for a democrap? Just what have they done -besides enable Republicans to push their agenda forward- that benefits the working class voter? Pushing through a poor health insurance bill initiated at the Heritage Foundation and a poor excuse for equal pay legislation are not things to brag about. Both have been seriously watered down to the point of near uselessness.

Kind of like what has happened to the party of FDR which brought about the greatest economic prosperity this nation ever saw.

That party I would vote for. The ones we have now? Fuggeddaboutit!

At 2:38 PM, Blogger edmondo said...

Narrow, unexpected Trump wins-- for whatever reason (Russian interference ....

Please stop lying to your readers. As Meuller just pointed out..."There was no collusion". Maybe if the Democrats hadn't nominated the only person in the world more odious than Trump....

At 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God I wish Trump would just stroke out before 2020!

At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God isn't in charge anymore. The Other Guy conducted a hostile takeover successfully.

At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that trump lived past his 12th birthday never having burst into flames is plenty of proof that there is no god. period.

edmondo, I actually believe that the trump campaign was too stupid to collude. But Russia did help them anyway. A quarter billion laundered through the NRA to the campaign was a lot of help in itself.
But the investigation DID bring out campaign finance crimes -- the hush money payments to keep the porn star and the bunny silent so those scandals wouldn't be visible. Who knew that nobody in this cluster fuck of a shithole gives a flying fuck about campaign finance law nor about a rich white lothario fucking all the strange he can buy, cajole or roofie.

Certainly Pelosi doesn't give one flying fuck!

At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Pelosi cared about sex ever in her life to ever donate any airborne fornication. I'm sure the power games of politics always got her off so spectacularly that she gave sex up and never missed it.

At 7:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if biden is the most "electable", then the voters are so far gone that we deserve trump and all who follow until the final collapse.


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