Monday, September 14, 2020

Can The GOP Lose Texas In 2020?

This is not one those election years when the issues seem esoteric and disconnected from real life. This one is about the issues each voter is struggling with every day, about threats to personal and economic health, to the family and friends and institutions that stitch together into what we all refer to now as normal life. 

What’s happening nationally with the coronavirus — in terms of the issues at stake, problems with response, what it means for family, schools, commerce, recreation, voting, culture, retirees, life and death itself — is reflected in Texas politics today. 

The referendum on the ballot this year is whether voter sentiment against Trumpism in Texas, as across the nation, has reached a tipping point favoring a new political direction for the nation — and Texas. The political question for Texas Democrats is whether they have rebuilt enough of a political ecosystem across the state, or at least up and down the increasingly left-leaning urban/suburban corridor between Houson and Dallas / Fort Worth, that they can turn out a winning share of voters. 

Texas Republicans on the ballot this year are looking at cracks in their political base as the Republican advantage in this reliably conservative state is at risk because of a volatile president, a weak economy, and a Covid-19 pandemic allowed to run rampant by national and state Republican leaders. Republicans can read election results as well as Democrats, and they can clearly read the trend was not their friend from 2012 to 2018. 

Republicans have good reason to fret Texas may be slipping from their grasp sooner - as in this year - rather than later.

Monday, September 7, 2020

A New National Poll Shows Biden Leads Trump by 10 Points

A new national CBS/YouGov poll puts Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump 52% to 42%, with only 6% undecided or planning to vote for a third-party candidate. That 52% is a scary number for Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien. It means that even if everyone else votes for Trump—which is unlikely— Biden still wins the popular vote by 4 points. Having the challenger be above 50% is terrible news for any incumbent.

The poll also shows that any Trump bump due to the convention is already gone. On July 1, Biden had a 9-point lead in the Real Clear Politics average. Now it is even a smidgen higher.

Some other takeaways from the poll are that voters believe:

  • Biden will encourage calm in the cities whereas Trump will encourage fighting
  • The way to end the protests is police reform
  • They'll feel safer with Biden (48% to 43%)
  • If Biden wins, Trump voters will worry about the economy
  • If Trump wins, Biden voters will worry about the virus
  • The election is a referendum on Trump, not a choice between the candidates
  • Democrats are voting against Trump, not for Biden
  • Biden is +9 with white women (Hillary Clinton lost them)

Perhaps most significant is that Trump is slowly losing ground with white noncollege men, a group Trump won by 10 points in 2016. Many of them didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, they voted against Clinton, a woman they perceived as an arrogant and entitled elitist. Biden does not generate that kind of antagonism among white non-college men. Among voters without a college degree Biden now has a 2 point lead over Trump 47-45 percent. Trump’s significant lead among all men four years ago has turned into a 4-point overall deficit, with Biden leading 49-45 percent.

In 2016, Donald Trump won the white suburban vote over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton by several points and tied for the suburban vote amoung all demographic groups. This year, Biden leads Trump among self-described suburbanites, 53% to 40% and ties ties with Trump amoung white voters in suburban areas.

Trump dominated with rural voters in 2016 and continues to lead against his Democratic rival in that demographic, but by a much smaller margin than four years ago. In 2016, Trump won voters in self-described rural agricultural areas by 3 to 1 but holds less than a 2 to 1 lead now, 60% to 34%. The president has also experienced a 9-point drop in his margin of support from rural women, compared to 2016.

Among voters in small towns, a demographic Trump won by 6 points in 2016, he’s currently in a statistical tie with Biden, 48% to 45%, within the margin of sampling error for that location. Voters in big cities back Biden at about the same level as they backed Clinton in 2016.

The president has lost ground among several other key demographic groups since his 2016 victory. Trump has lost the advantage he had with seniors in 2016. The single digit margin of support he enjoyed in the last election has been replaced by a 6 point lead for Biden among voters 65 and older.

Polls now give Biden up to a 12-point lead among women (53 percent to 41 percent), an 11-point lead among independent voters (48 percent to 37 percent) and an 11-point lead among voters in the suburbs (52 percent to 41 percent).

The Republican Party and Donald Trump are deeply unpopular, and their numbers are sinking. Meanwhile, Joe Biden isn’t just more popular than Trump, his approval numbers are on an upward trajectory as he continues to rally his party around him. Now can you see why it would be so hard for Trump and Republicans to turn this thing around?

More:

Sunday, September 6, 2020

November 2020 Texas Voter Turnout First Look

The Texas early voting period this year runs for 18 days, from Tuesday, October 13, 2020 to Friday, October 30, 2020 and includes two weekends. Normally, the early voting period runs for 12 days and includes just one weekend. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott extended the early voting period for the November election by six days, moving the start date to Oct. 13 instead of Oct. 19, citing continued challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Analyzing day by day early in-person and mail ballot return voter turnout, and Election Day turnout, for Collin County, Texas - and all of Texas - will be more challenging this year for many reasons. Comparing 2020 turnout to 2016 turnout will be like comparing apples to oranges any way we look at it.

In 2016, of the 365K total ballots cast, almost 15K were mail ballots, 290K were early ballots, and 60K were ballots cast on Election Day in Collin County. How will people change their early in-person turnout behavior because of COVID-19 and the additional six days of early voting?

Almost certainly more seniors age 65 and older will vote by mail, but will the courts allow all voters under age 65 to vote? If those under age 65 are allowed to vote by mail, will they, and what portion? In 2016, only 5,388 mail ballots had been returned to the Collin Co. election office by the first day of early voting. How many mail ballots will be returned this year by the first day of early voting which is 6 days earlier than usual. Only 15K total mail ballots were returned in Collin County in 2016.

Texas state law requires that for mail ballot applications received from overseas military voters, mail ballots must be mailed out to those voters by the 45th day before Election Day. This year that deadline falls on Saturday September 19. County Clerks and Election Registrars typical begin mailing out mail ballots all who sent in their mail ballot applications by that date too. Will the number of mail ballot applications this year be more? Double, triple, or even more?

In 2016, 30k Collin Co. voters turned out in-person during each of the first two days of early voting. Then, more than 25k in-person ballots were cast each day Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday through that first week of EV. Will the first week of early voting this year be as strong since it starts six days earlier than usual?  Will early in-person turnout this year remain as strong through all of early voting as it did in 2016?

Hillary Clinton received 6,178 of her 139,837 total Collin County votes by mail, with 110,326 of her votes given by in-person early voters and 23,333 of her votes given by in-person election day voters. Donald Trump received 7,741 of his 200,395 total votes by mail, with 161,616 of his votes given by in-person early voters and 31,038 of his votes given by in-person election day voters. How will these ratios of early, election day, and mail votes change in 2020?

In 2016, Collin County had 540K registered voters qualified to vote in the November general election. For the July primary runoff elections Collin County had 617K registered voters. Will the county have the usual September surge of voter registration applications this year? If so, over 630K Collin County residents will be registered to voter in the November elections. Most election experts expect voter turnout this year to reach history levels not seen in the last 100 years. If the experts are correct, turnout will likely top 70 percent of registered voters? If that happens, more than 440K ballots will be cast in Collin County this year, a substantial increase over the 366K ballots cast (68% turnout) in the county for the November 2016 election.

And finally, this is the first presidential election where voters will not have a “straight party” ballot option. Voters must mark their ballot for each and every ballot position. In past elections, 70 percent of the Republican vote in the county was straight party while only 55-60 percent of the Democratic vote was straight party. Will Republicans “stop at the top” of their ballot after voting for President Trump and not mark their ballots for down ballot Republicans? Will this change the fate of down ballot Republicans in Collin County who have for years coasted to victory on the strengths the Republican straight party voting?

These are the questions we will be looking to answer for Collin County and all of Texas from the first day of early voting.

More:

Friday, September 4, 2020

What You Need to Know About Mail Voting

Make your absentee mail ballot count! Texas and most states can reject your mail-in ballot for poor penmanship. Yes, it happens to far too many times. Here’s how to make your mail-in vote count, starting with your mail ballot application.

Make sure your signature on your mail ballot application and your mail ballot return envelope exactly match, and matches the signature on your original voter registration application. It’s best if you use the same good quality pen to sign both your mail ballot application and your mail ballot return envelope.

In Texas, a panel of election workers called the ballot board checks and approves every signature on the outside of each mail ballot return envelope. The board verifies the return ballot signature matches the “on file” signature for the voter to verify the voter’s identity. By matching the signature on the mail ballot return envelope with the voter’s mail ballot application the board also verifies the mail ballot received is from the voter who did in fact request mail ballot. The board usually distributes the ballot envelope among the members to validate signatures.

If one board member rejects a returned ballot envelope because the signatures don’t match, the entire board made up of Democrats and Republicans inspect and vote on whether to accept or reject that ballot envelope.

Where the handwriting appears to match, even if the signatures aren’t a exact match, under guidelines from the Texas Secretary of State, the ballots should be accepted. However, it’s a subjective call made by people who aren’t handwriting experts.

Those who serve on county ballot boards across Texas make a good faith effort to properly process mail ballots, but mail voters too often complicate their job. Spouses or family members at the same address sometimes get the ballot return envelopes confused and they sign each others’ envelopes. Too often, voters don’t sign the application or ballot return envelope at all. Some use a rubber signature stamp, which is a no-no. Sometimes, handwriting is so sloppy it doesn’t clearly match. On many, the penmanship is so poor it takes extra time for board members to study the signature comparisons to finally verify or reject returned ballot envelopes.

Make sure your vote is counted by taking the time to make sure you properly affix you signature to your mail ballot application and mail ballot return envelope. It will also help the ballot board in each county approve more ballot returns per hour so the ballots can be more quickly counted.

Every state follows a similar process to inspect mail voter signatures.

Update Tuesday, September 8, 2020 @ 5:45 PM — U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled Tuesday that the state’s vote by mail process for validating a voter’s signature on their mail ballot return envelope “plainly violates certain voters’ constitutional rights.” Judge Garcia ruled it is unconstitutional for county ballot boards to reject a ballot based on a “perceived signature mismatch” between the signature on the voter’s mail ballot return envelope and mail ballot application without notifying the voter about the perceived mismatch and giving the voter a “meaningful opportunity” to verify their signature on the mail ballot return envelope is genuine.

Additionally, to “protect voters’ rights” in the upcoming election, Garcia said the Texas secretary of state must either advise local election officials that mail-in ballots may not be rejected using the existing signature comparison process, or notify them that they are required to set up a rejection notification system that would allow voters to challenge a rejection. The county election authority must notify voters be mailed notices of their mail ballot rejection within one day of a mismatch determination by the ballot board. Those who provided phone numbers on their applications must be called at least once within one day of the decision.

The ruling comes more than a year after two voters, George Richardson of Brazos County and Rosalie Weisfeld of McAllen, filed suit after their mail-in ballots were rejected by local officials who decided the signatures on the envelopes in which their ballots were returned were not theirs. The voters — joined by groups that represent Texans with disabilities, veterans and young voters — argued the state law that allows local election officials to reject mail-in ballots based on mismatching signatures violates the 14th Amendment.

In his order, Garcia agreed and said the state is creating a “severe” burden for voters whose ballots are rejected because they are given late notice of that rejection and are not offered a “meaningful opportunity” to “cure” their ballots.

Before mail-in ballots are counted, a committee of local election officials called the ballot board reviews the return ballot envelope to ensure that a voter’s endorsement signature on the ballot envelope matches the signature that voter used on their application to vote by mail. They can also compare it to signatures on file with the county clerk or voter registrar that were made within the last six years.

But because the state election code does not establish any standards for review, the plaintiffs argued that the law is applied unequally, with each county “necessarily” developing “its own idiosyncratic, arbitrary, and ad hoc procedure to determine that a ballot should be rejected” with no requirement to notify voters about the rejections until 10 days after Election Day.

The ruling comes just as mail-in ballots for the November general election are almost set to go out to voters. Texas is one of just a few states that hasn’t opened up mail-in voting to any voter concerned about getting COVID-19 at a polling place. But local election officials are still expecting a jump in mail-in voters — both among voters who have always been eligible but usually vote in person, and voters citing a disability or illness that could make voting in person a risky endeavor.

We wait to see if Judge Garcia's rule survives appeal. I suspect it won't.

In Texas, voter registrations and signatures for mail ballot envelopes returned to the county clerk or election registrar may be verified by upon receipt by the ballot board. Texas election jurisdictions (counties) with more than 100,000 people can begin tabulating returned mail ballots after the final day of the in-person early voting period. In jurisdictions with fewer than 100,000 people, returned mail ballot counting can not start until the in-person voting polls open on Election Day. So, my Texas friends and campaign managers, make every effort to get those voting by mail to immediately mail in their absentee ballot application, and then mark and return mail their ballot the same day they receive it. If Democrats voting by mail return their mail ballots by the end of early voting, the count of those ballots will be included with the counts of ballots cast in-person during early voting and on Election Day. 

To my friends and campaign managers who live in battleground states other than Texas: Does your state start counting absentee ballots before election day? Or only starting on Election Day? This is a very important point for Democrats state by state to start organizing around. This article it's making the point that if you live in a battleground state where absentee ballots can’t be verified and counted until Election Day, or if the results are not published until all the absentee ballots are counted, then it might be best to ask voters to mask up and vote in person, early if possible.

When Absentee/Mail Ballot Processing and Counting Can Begin State by State - updated 8/25/2020

State by state information on mail-in and early in-person voting, including the first day you can cast your ballot in the 2020 election

Trump Is Heading for a 'Red Mirage' Win on Election Night, Bloomberg-Funded Data Firm Says

PBS News Hour: In battlegrounds, absentee ballot rejections could triple:

Thousands of absentee ballots get rejected in every presidential election. With the coronavirus creating a surge in mail-in balloting and postal delays reported across the country, the number of rejected ballots in November is projected to be significantly higher than previous elections.

If ballots are rejected at the same rate as during this year's primaries, up to three times as many voters in November could be disenfranchised in key battleground states when compared to the last presidential election, according to an Associated Press analysis of rejected ballots. It could be even more pronounced in some urban areas where Democratic votes are concentrated and ballot rejection rates trended higher during this year's primaries.

Ballot rejections occur even under the best of circumstances. They go uncounted because they arrived too late in the mail, voters forgot to sign them or signatures didn't match the one on file at local election offices.

Read the rest of story at PBS News Hour.

Monday, August 24, 2020

2016 Polls Were So Wrong 2020 Polls Can’t Be Trusted and Must Be Ignored

Actually, polling data provides valuable insight into the feelings, attitudes, and leanings of voters. Too often, however, political candidates, pundits and strategists ignore the “devil in the details” in cross tab polling data and go their own way, then blame the polls when things go wrong.

The common meme in 2020 is that polling can’t be trusted because 2016 polls were so wrong. Corollaries to that meme are that polls were wrong in 2016 and are wrong in 2020 because Trump people lie to pollsters about supporting Trump, and Trump voters simply won’t talk to pollsters. But these oft-repeated arguments ignore the fact that the national and state polls in 2018 accurately reflected the building blue wave for Democrats winning control of the House. Further, 2016 polls missed Hillary Clinton’s national popular-vote margin by only about one percentage point.

Clinton’s national popular-vote edge was 2.1 percentage points (equal to about 2.9 million votes) and Hillary won the national popular ballot contest by 2.86 million votes. There couldn’t have been too many Trump voters who lied or wouldn’t respond to pollsters in 2016 for them to be that close.

In 2016, 45 states and the District of Columbia exactly followed polling in those states. Florida and North Carolina were considered toss-ups, along with Maine's and Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional Districts. The top line polling numbers in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, where Clinton lost by 77K votes, showed Clinton ahead in each, because pollsters did not properly weight the sample of voters without a college degree when calculating their top line “horse race” numbers. Trump's advantage in those key battleground states wasn't noticed by mainstream media pundits who only look at those top line numbers until late in the race, if at all. (Polling companies now correctly weight the sample of voters without a college degree when calculating the top line “who is winning” headline numbers.)

Even so, the cross tab detail data reported by pollsters for WI, MI, and PA in 2016 clearly showed Clinton was badly under water with suburban voters. Another flashing warning sign for Clinton in the cross tab details was turnout enthusiasm among traditional Democratic voters in those states, notably African American voters, was historically weak. Clinton’s loss in those states directly correlates with the notable decline in black voter turnout in 2016.

Democratic Party leaders and union leaders in MI, PA, and WI saw first hand Clinton’s problem with suburban and black voters and from August through Election Day strongly warned Clinton’s campaign team that Clinton was at risk of losing those states.
Unfortunately, Clinton’s campaign strategists, ignoring weak suburban voter support and black voter turnout warnings from polling cross tab data - and from Democratic leaders on the ground in those three states - decided to bypass GOTV campaign spending in those three key states during the last 12 weeks of the campaign.

Clinton’s campaign instead committed $237 million in “Oh What A Terrible Man - Trump” TV advertising in several red states, like Arizona - where she was clearly behind in the polls - in an unwise attempt to swing moderate Republican voters away from Trump. Clinton’s campaign strategists thought Trump was such a terrible candidate that negative campaign ad spending against Trump in those those red states would swing the electoral college votes of those states to her win column.

In the end, she didn’t swing many of those “moderate” red state Republican voters and she did not swing any of those electoral college votes, and she lost the electoral college votes in her “blue firewall” states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin for good measure.
If Clinton’s campaign team - and the political pundits and reporters - had not ignored what the polling cross tab data was telling them about voters in WI, MI, and PA, and instead acted on it to run a targeted GOTV campaign in those states, we would be talking today about President Clinton’s re-election campaign.

My concern for 2020 is I see Biden and Democrats playing out the same “Oh What A Terrible Man - Trump” game plan to attract Republican voters that failed for Clinton in 2016. Maybe the strategy will work in 2020, since all but the hardest of hardcore right-wing Trump supporters have observed for themselves over the past four years that, indeed, Trump is not just a terrible man, but a terrible president as well.

Friday, June 5, 2020

What If 2020 Is A Blue Tsunami Year

What if the 2020 presidential electoral map looked like this on November 4th. The trend and growing magnitude of negative polling results for Donald Trump this week and over the last few weeks show Trump is increasingly an underdog to reach the 270 electoral votes he needs to win a second term in the fall. A series of polls in swing and heretofore red states released Wednesday and over the past month make this reality clear.

* A Fox News poll in Arizona shows Joe Biden leading Trump 46% to 42%

* A Fox News poll in Ohio put Biden at 45% to Trump's 43%

* A Fox News poll in Wisconsin had Biden at 49% and Trump at 40%.

* A Quinnipiac University poll in Texas had the race at Trump 44%, Biden 43%.

* The latest Fox News and Quinnipiac University polls in Pennsylvania had Biden at 50% and Trump at 42%.

* The latest Fox News poll in Michigan had Biden at 49% and Trump at 41%.

* A poll of likely Michigan voters conducted this week by EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press found Joe Biden now leads Trump in Michigan 53% to 41%, doubling his lead over the incumbent since January.

* The latest Fox News poll in Florida had Biden at 46% and Trump at 43%.

* The latest Civiqs poll in Georgia had Biden at 48 percent and Trump at 47 percent.

* The latest NBC News / Marist poll in North Carolina had Biden at 49% and Trump at 45%.

* The latest NBC News / Marist poll in North Carolina had Biden at 49% and Trump at 45%.

The latest CNN Poll of Polls this week shows 51% of registered voters nationwide back former Vice President Joe Biden, while 41% support President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential race.
The poll of polls includes the five most recent non-partisan, live-operator, national telephone polls conducted by high quality pollsters measuring the views of registered voters on the general election matchup between Biden and Trump.

The Poll of Polls includes results from the NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist College poll conducted June 2 and 3, the Monmouth University poll conducted May 28 to June 1, the ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted May 25 to 28, the Fox News poll conducted May 17 to 20 and the Quinnipiac University poll conducted May 14 to 18.

The new numbers represent a shift in Biden's favor since April, when the CNN Poll of Polls found support for Biden averaging 48%, while Trump averaged 43% support.
How bad are those numbers for Trump? Trump carried Ohio by 8 points and narrowly won Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, by a collective 77,000 votes, helping him win 306 electoral votes in 2016. Trump’s path to 270 electoral votes and victory in 2020 without the electoral votes from those four midwestern states is less than narrow.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Blue Wave Tsunami Election Likely In 2020

On Saturday’s edition of MSNBC’s “Weekends,” Democratic strategist Ed Kilgore suggested that President Donald Trump could ultimately meet the same political fate as Herbert Hoover — and take down the rest of the Republican Party in the process. Rachel Bitecofer, a professor at Christopher Newport University who accurately predicted the number of Congressional seats Republicans would lose in the 2018 midterm election, agrees. Bitecofer has penned a dire 2020 Congressional election forecast for the Republican Party.

Back in July of 2019, when Rachel Bitecofer, a professor at Christopher Newport University, first released her 2020 presidential forecast, more than 20 candidates had thrown their hats into the ring seeking the Democratic Party's 2020 nomination.

With Joe Biden the certain nominee, she released her post-Democratic primary update of her forecast. In that update, she reflects that like in the 2018 congressional midterms, negative partisanship and backlash to Donald Trump will surge turnout among Democrats and Independents and allow the Democratic Party to accomplish something rarely seen in American politics-spoiling an incumbent president's reelection bid.


Rachel Bitecofer, Assistant Director of the Wason
Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport
University, joins David Pakman to discuss her
political modeling and much more...
Consolidating under Biden, Democrats are now well-positioned to make a full-court press for the White House. Although the party will face the risk of defection from the most die-hard Sanders supporters, by nominating Biden, they avoid what would have been much worse party disunity. With Sanders at the top of the ticket "frontline" Democratic incumbents and candidates in competitive races would have been forced to distance themselves from socialism, and thus, their party's presidential nominee. Such a situation would have risked the party's ability to frame 2020 a referendum on Donald Trump (something they may struggle to do anyway) muddling the negative partisanship that is driving mass voting behavior in the Trump Era.

Bitecofer’s late March post primary forecast update has Arizona moving from "toss-up" to "lean Democrat," pushing the anticipated baseline Electoral College count for Biden from the 278 predicted in July to 289 now. To clarify, this means that Biden is at 289 Electoral College votes before considering the outcome of the swing states in my model which are Iowa, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Maine CD 2, and Nebraska CD 2.

It should be noted, Bitecofer’s late March update of her top of ballot forecast predates any potential fallout from President Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding economic crisis. But the potential impact of these events, given the constraints of polarization and hyperpartisanship that grip our politics, could soften the enthusiasm of some core Republican voters for Trump's re-election beyond the confines of this forecast.

The Niskanen Center, which published Bitecofer’s full Senate and House analysis, summarizes her Congressional projection as “a blue tsunami” being the “likely outcome” of the 2020 elections.
Bitecofer argues that Democrats this cycle are more likely to benefit from “negative partisanship” that is defined by one political faction’s fear and dislike for the political party that holds the White House. In particular, she points to the strong Democratic turnout in this spring’s Wisconsin Supreme Court elections as a harbinger of what’s to come in the fall.

“Whatever 2020 turnout is, barring something extraordinary that disrupts the election, if more Democrats and left-leaning independents vote than did so in 2016 and pure independents break against Trump and congressional Republicans, Democrats will not only hold their 2018 House gains — they are poised to expand on their House majority and are competitive to take control of the Senate,” she writes.

Getting more granular and analyzing districts up for grabs, Bitecofer believes that “Democrats have at least a dozen very attractive prospects in the House to add to their already robust House majority” and that “Democrats are in superior positions in three of the four swing [Senate] races they need to win a 50-vote majority and have six prospects from which to glean their fourth seat.”
More:

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Bernie Sanders Suspends Presidential Campaign

After Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic presidential race on Wednesday, he addressed supporters in a live stream from his home in Burlington, Vt. Though he acknowledged he could not win the nomination, he said his movement had won “the ideological battle.” Sanders congratulated former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and pledged to work with him.

Here’s a full transcript of his speech.
Good morning and thank you very much for joining me. I want to express to each of you my deep gratitude for helping to create an unprecedented grass roots political campaign that has had a profound impact in changing our nation.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Democrats Well Positioned For Nov. 2020

Democrats continue to be well-positioned for the fall general election according Rachel Bitecofer’s post Super Tuesday update to her original ratings from July 2019. Her update reflects that the current political climate remains universally positive for Democrats.
Rachel Bitecofer, a 42-year-old professor of political science at Christopher Newport University in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, was little known in the world of political forecasting until November 2018. That’s when she forcast almost to the exact number the nature and size of the Democrats’ win in the U.S House, even as other forecasters went wobbly in the race’s final days.

In July 2019 she published her 2020 forcast model that predicted Democrats are a near lock for the presidency in 2020, and are likely to gain House seats and have a decent shot at retaking the Senate. Bitecofer’s prediction model, when you boil it down, is that modern American elections are rarely shaped by “middle ground” swing voters deciding to vote Democratic or Republican election cycle to election cycle, but rather by shifts in which partisan group of voters decides to vote in the largest numbers.

If she’s right, we are now in a post-economy, post-incumbency, post record-while-in-office era of politics. Her analysis, as Bitecofer puts it with characteristic immodesty, amounts to nothing less than “flipping giant paradigms of electoral theory upside down.”

Read Rachel Bitecofer’s full update to her 2020 election forecast.



Cook Political Report is also out with their latest electoral college forecast. Cook’s prediction gives Biden 232 lean/likely/solid electoral college votes and Trump 204 lean/likely/solid electoral college votes. In contrast to Bitecofer’s forecast, Cook believes there are six toss-up states: Michigan-Pennsylvania-Wisconsin plus Arizona, Florida and North Carolina. Comparing Cooks map below with Bitecofer’s forecast above, Bitecofer believes Michigan-Pennsylvania-Wisconsin plus Arizona are already in Biden’s column while Georgia and Iowa are toss-ups. Both Cook and Bitecofer assess Florida and North Carolina as toss-ups.

In Cook’s forecast, Biden starts with a slight lead in the Electoral College math. Right now, 232 electoral votes sit in Lean/Likely or Solid Democrat. On the GOP side, 204 electoral votes are in the Lean/Likely/Solid Republican column. There are six states (and one congressional district) in Toss-Up: Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska's 2nd district. Those add up to 102 Electoral votes.

To get to 270, Biden can't lose any of the states currently in Lean/Likely/Solid Democrat and has to win 39 percent of the electoral college votes in Toss Up. Trump needs to hold those in the Lean/Likely/Solid Republican columns, plus he needs to win more than two-thirds (66 percent) in the toss-up column. ...

What you will notice about this map that the more diverse the state, and the higher the percentage of white, college voters, the more likely it will be in a Democratic-leaning column. For example, Colorado not only has a significant Latino population, but there are almost as many white college voters in the state (40 percent) as white, non-college voters (41 percent).

The higher the percentage of white, non-college voters, the more likely that the state sits more safely in a GOP-leaning column. For example, Texas and Georgia, once considered long-shots for Democratic gains, are now in Lean Republican. These states not only have significant (and growing) non-white populations, but, as we saw in 2018, the dense suburbs in and around metro centers in these states have also become more Democratic...

Trump's path to the White House is anchored in Florida. Under our current ratings, there is only one scenario out of twelve possible for Trump to get 270 electoral votes without winning the Sunshine state....

If Trump holds Florida, the next most important states for him are in the industrial Midwest and that infamous trifecta: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump can afford to lose two of these states and still win the Electoral College (assuming he wins all the other states in Toss Up). But, he can't lose all three.

Of the three, Wisconsin looks the friendliest to Trump. Not only has polling consistently shown his job approval ratings higher here than the other two states, but demographically, this state is also the best suited to Trump. The electorate is overwhelmingly white (90 percent), and it has the highest percentage of white, non-college voters (almost 60 percent) of the three.

Demographically, Minnesota looks a lot like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. And, it was very close in 2016. Clinton won the state by less than 2 percent.

But, a fantastic analysis of the 2016 election results by Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin (which I have linked to throughout this column), finds that Minnesota had a higher percentage of white college voters (36 percent) than the other three. These voters supported Clinton by 21 points. And, while Clinton lost white non-college voters here by a hefty amount (21 points), it was better than her showing in Pennsylvania where she lost among those voters by 30 points. This isn't to say that we should expect the state to perform the same here in 2020 as it did in 2016. Instead, it's important to note that states with a higher population of white, college-educated voters will be more amenable to a Biden candidacy. The higher the non-college white population, the stronger the chance that Trump carries that state.

North Carolina is a new-comer to our Toss-Up category. Trump carried the state by 3 points — an improvement from previous GOP showings here. Romney won here by 2 points in 2012, while in 2008, McCain lost the state by less than one point. According to the Teixeira and Halpin analysis, Trump won white, non-college voters in this state by a whopping 51 points — the largest margin among white, non-college voters of any other state in the Toss Up category. And, while the state has been growing and suburbanizing, it is still far behind Virginia in the percentage of white college voters (28 percent to Virginia's 33 percent).

To win here, Biden needs both a stronger showing in the suburbs than Clinton did, while also getting strong African-American turnout and making a moderate improvement over Clinton's anemic 23 percent showing with non-college white voters.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Texas Democrats Call For 100% Mail Ballot Voting

Gilberto Hinojosa, Chair of the Texas Democratic Party, sent a letter to the Texas Secretary of State proposing that Texas allow all eligible Texas voters to vote by mail as a public health saftey measure. In part, Chairman Hinojosa writes in his letter that, under the current and projected conditions involving COVID-19, it does not seem viable for Texas to hold meaningful elections in which all eligible voters can participate, if those elections involve [in-person] polling place-based voting. Many of the facilities typically used for polling places are closing down and the majority of our election workers are older adults who have now been advised by the CDC to remain at home in order to avoid exposure to COVID-19.

“The Texas Democratic Party calls for the Governor to immediately declare all mail-in ballot elections for May 2 and May 26,” Hinojosa writes. “This goes beyond party or politics, this is a matter of right and wrong.” An all-mail election, in which county election officials mail a ballot to every registered voter, is the only option that guarantees Texans’ right to vote while also protecting public health.”

Texas has one of the most restrictive vote-by-mail programs in the country. To receive a mail ballot voters must submit an application to their county election authority explicitly stating the reason they seek permission to be “excused” from voting in-person at a polling place. To be excused, voters must be older than 65, disabled, out of the county during the in-person voting period or in jail.

Colorado might serve as a model for Texas to adopt 100% Vote By Mail for coming elections in May and November. Colorado’s Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act of May 2013 (H.B. 13-1303) mandated that mail ballots be sent to every registered voter for most elections; eliminated assigned polling places while establishing voter service and polling centers where any voter in a county can cast a ballot—either early or on Election Day; authorized in- person same-day registration; and shortened the state residency requirements for voter registration. The act changed how Colorado elections are administered, including:

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Strong Texas Primary Early Voting


With a voter registration increase of almost two million voters from 2016 to 2020, early voting turnout totals this year for the Democratic primary in Texas topped 2016 levels, but fell short of the Party’s record early turnout in 2008 in all but a few counties. Notably, turnout this year for the Democratic primaries in Collin and Denton counties topped the record levels of 2008.

The Texas Secretary of State recorded 2,024,861 in-person and mail ballots from February 18 to February 28 in the state’s 254 counties. A total of 1,000,231 Texans cast a ballot in the Democratic primary while 1,085,065 Texans voted in the Republican primary for a total of 2,085,296 ballots cast early.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Democrats, it's okay to vote for Bernie

From The Week by Ryan Cooper

Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday — with 90 percent of precincts counted, he had 26 percent of the vote, and networks declared him the victor. Sanders has won the popular vote in each of the first two contests in the Democratic primary and now has a lead in national polls. He is unquestionably the frontrunner for the nomination.

The win in New Hampshire, however, wasn't as big as many polls had predicted. Sen. Amy Klobuchar in particular drastically beat expectations, coming in at nearly 20 percent against a pre-election polling average of about 11 percent, while Pete Buttigieg also gained a couple points to 24 percent. Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden got absolutely destroyed, just like in Iowa. He came in fifth with just 9 percent, compared to a polling average of 11 percent — and a total collapse from 23 percent just a month ago. It appears there is a significant population of voters who are just looking for any kind of moderate candidate who seems halfway plausible.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

New Hampshire Done - On To Super Tuesday

The New Hampshire primary is done - on to Nevada and South Carolina, then Super Tuesday. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leaves NH with a win. South Bend Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg leaves NH with a strong showing. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar heads to NV with hopes of building on her momentum move in IA and NH. Sanders and Buttigieg each came out with nine delegates from the state, and Klobuchar gained six. NH voters were not high on former Vice President Joe Biden or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Neither crossed the 15% threshold needed to receive any pledged delegates.

Perhaps Biden and Warren can kickstart their campaigns with Nevada caucus goers and the South Carolina primary voters. Nevada’s caucus is held on February 20, a day after the next debate on Feb 19, just a week away.
Candidate Pop
Vote
Percent Delegate
Count
Bernie Sanders 121,579 26.10% 21
Pete Buttigieg 115,297 24.75% 23
Amy Klobuchar 79,455 17.06% 7
Elizabeth Warren 62,132 13.34% 8
Joe Biden 48,428 10.40% 6
Tom Steyer 11,058 2.37% 0
Tulsi Gabbard 9,594 2.06% 0
Results through New Hampshire

But, by the time South Carolina primary voters go to the polls on Saturday, February 29, early in person and by-mail voting will have run its course in Texas, Colorado, California and many other Super Tuesday states. More than half - and up to 70 percent - of voters in most Super Tuesday states will have already cast their ballots early, in-person or by mail, by SC primary Election Day. Indeed a good portion of SC voters will have already cast their ballot early by SC Election Day too.

Alabama, American Samoa, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Democrats Abroad, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia will all hold their presidential primaries on Super Tuesday. 1,357 of the 3,979 total available pledged delegates will be awarded to candidates in the Super Tuesday Democratic primaries. More than one third of the U.S. population is expected to vote across the Super Tuesday states.

It may well be too late for any candidate to kickstart their campaign by the time SC voters go in-person to the polls on their primary Election Day on February 29. By then, it will be all but over for all but the top two or three leading contenders - at least for any hope of winning nomination on the first round of national convention delegate voting.

Billionaire, former NYC Mayor, Michael Bloomberg has been much in the news this month for his late entry to the race and the $200 million he has spent to date on massive TV and social media ad buys across the Super Tuesday states.

So far, Bloomberg has not accumulated any pledged delegates or national votes. His campaign to amass votes and delegates effectively starts with the SC primary. He will have to accumulate mass qualities of votes and delegates during the Super Tuesday early voting period - already underway in several Super Tuesday states - to be anything more than a spoiler at the national convention by making impossible for any candidate to accumulate enough pledged delegates to win nomination on the first round of national convention voting.

Bloomberg’s late entry to the race makes it more than likely he will be able to, at best, suck up just enough pledged delegates to throw the national convention into multiple rounds of contentious broker nominating voting.   — https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/482245-democrats-see-chances-rising-for-brokered-convention

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Electoral College’s Racist Origins

More than two centuries after it was designed to empower southern white voters, the system continues to do just that. Is a color-blind political system possible under our Constitution? If it is, the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 did little to help matters. While black people in America today are not experiencing 1950s levels of voter suppression, efforts to keep them and other citizens from participating in elections began within 24 hours of the Shelby County v. Holder ruling and have only increased since then.

In Shelby County’s oral argument, Justice Antonin Scalia cautioned, “Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get them out through the normal political processes.” Ironically enough, there is some truth to an otherwise frighteningly numb claim. American elections have an acute history of racial entitlements—only they don’t privilege black Americans.

For poll taxes and voter-ID laws and outright violence to discourage racial minorities from voting. (The point was obvious to anyone paying attention: As William F. Buckley argued in his essay “Why the South Must Prevail,” white Americans are “entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally,” anywhere they are outnumbered because they are part of “the advanced race.”) But America’s institutions boosted white political power in less obvious ways, too, and the nation’s oldest structural racial entitlement program is one of its most consequential: the Electoral College.

Commentators today tend to downplay the extent to which race and slavery contributed to the Framers’ creation of the Electoral College, in effect whitewashing history: Of the considerations that factored into the Framers’ calculus, race and slavery were perhaps the foremost.

Read the full story at The Atlantic: The Electoral College’s Racist Origins

Read more: The Electoral College was terrible from the start

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Open Letter to the DNC From an American Centrist

Dear DNC officials:

I come from a long line of Democrats. My grandparents survived the Great Depression because of FDR’s New Deal, and both of my parents were loyal Democrats as well. In my adult lifetime, I proudly registered as a Democrat at age 18, in the 1990s. Since then, I have become extremely disillusioned, watching the Democratic Party become more and more corporate-funded and corporate-aligned to the point where I do not recognize it anymore.

Texas Democrats Mirror Nation

Republicans have dominated Texas politics for more than two decades, but as the state’s population trends younger and becomes more diverse, Democrats are having greater success. In 2018, former congressman Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat, came close to beating Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and brought national attention to the state’s changing politics. That same year, Democrats flipped two suburban congressional districts and picked up a dozen seats in the Texas House, putting Democrats just nine seats away from taking control of the chamber — and just ahead of the next redistricting process.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Unity Candidate Elizabeth Warren

Ben Mathis-Lilley in his “Scared of Bernie? Not Feeling Pete? The Unity Candidate Has Been Right Here the Whole Time” piece at Slate magazine makes the case for a candidate who matches Bernie Sanders’ level of ambition and outraged concern for inequality with the interest in “practical solutions” and ability to “unify” that the party’s more status quo–friendly voters say they are drawn to? And perhaps that candidate is Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Warren doesn’t participate in the typical mainstream Democratic-politician practice of using the words practical, solutions, and unity as a means of signaling her distance from the left. is a practical-minded center-left candidate with a plausible case that she will get useful things done.

Voters Are Still Looking For The Hope And Change President

In a rant on MSNBC that went viral on Tuesday evening, longtime centrist Democratic strategist James Carville vented his concerns about the party’s prospects for beating Donald Trump, taking particular aim at the party’s leftward lurch with particular aim at Sen. Bernie Sanders. His diatribe took place against the backdrop of an Iowa caucus where old guard centrist Democrats’ favorite candidate, Joe Biden, placed a weak fourth after Sen. Bernie Sanders, South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and just ahead of Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

In his rant, Carville uses the narrative framework for the Democratic primary campaign in 2020: There's a fraught and difficult choice between nominating an "electable" centrist or choosing a more progressive candidate who will motivate the base but supposedly will have a much harder time defeating Donald Trump in the general election.

Carville’s message is clear — Democrats have to choose between progressive economic and social programs and winning elections — a sacred doctrine in old party leadership members and mainstream media circles. There is no real evidence for this proposition. Yet this is precisely why former Vice President Joe Biden has been held out as the most "electable" candidate for the general election, on the grounds that he appeals to the supposed moderate voters who are viewed as the key to a Democrat winning the White House in 2020.