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Democratic voters underestimate just how many voters are coming to them this election

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  1. Kuromantis
    An optimistic article on why the blue wave of the 2018 midterms hasn't really gone away.

    An optimistic article on why the blue wave of the 2018 midterms hasn't really gone away.

    By way of disclosure, I am a Democratic pollster; for professional and personal reasons alike, I want Democratic candidates to succeed. But no matter what, I also want candidates and party operatives to base decisions—such as where and how to campaign—on an accurate view of the political landscape. At the moment, Democrats are underestimating their own strength and misperceiving the sources of it.

    The release on Friday of an ABC News/Ipsos poll indicating that 55 percent of Americans approved of Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus—12 points higher than the previous week—prompted another round of fatalistic chatter in certain quarters of the political establishment. Shocked by Trump’s victory in 2016, some left-leaning commentators and rank-and-file Democrats alike have been steeling themselves for his reelection in 2020, noting that most presidents win second terms; that, at least before the pandemic, the economy was humming along; and more recently that, during moments of national disaster, Americans tend to rally around the leader they have.

    Every time Americans have gone to the polls since Trump took office, they have pushed back hard against him. The blue wave that began in state elections in 2017 and followed along in the 2018 midterms and 2019. Trump focused the Republican Party’s whole 2018 congressional campaign on immigrant caravans and the border wall, and he lost. Trump held rallies in support of the Republican gubernatorial candidates on the last nights before elections in the deep-red states of Kentucky and Louisiana, and they lost. The GOP losses right through the end of 2019 were produced by dramatic, growing gains for Democrats in the nation’s suburbs. Democrats took total control of the Virginia legislature, where the party held on to all the suburban seats it had flipped two years earlier and gained six more.

    During super tueasday, Democratic voters took over the nominating process and changed everything. No group of voters felt more threatened by Donald Trump than African Americans, and no group was more determined to see him defeated. When a stunning 61 percent of black voters in South Carolina chose Joe Biden, other Democrats got the message. Turnout surged on Super Tuesday, led by Texas with a 45 percent increase over 2016 and Virginia with a 70 percent increase, for the highest turnout in state history. The increase was led by African Americans and voters in the suburbs. Two weeks later in Michigan, Tim Alberta declared in Politico, “Democratic turnout exploded,” led by a 45 percent increase in the state’s richest county.

    When President Barack Obama urged voters to “build on the progress” by supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016, he underestimated how much working-class voters felt Democrats had pushed their concerns out of sight. Democratic presidents championed NAFTA and presided over the outsourcing of jobs; bank bailouts, lost homes and wages, and mandatory health insurance further alienated working people; and Clinton did not hide her closeness with Wall Street or her discomfort campaigning to win working-class and rural communities. So working people had lots of reasons to consider voting for Donald Trump, who said he was battling for the “forgotten Americans.”

    The white working class forms 46 percent of registered voters; most are women. Although these voters’ excitement and hopes made Trump’s 2016 victory possible, they were demonstrably disillusioned just a year into Trump’s presidency. They pulled back when the Republicans proposed big cuts in domestic spending, Medicare, and Medicaid and made health insurance more uncertain and expensive, while slashing taxes for corporations and their lobbyists. In the midterms, Democrats ran on cutting prescription-drug costs, building infrastructure, and limiting the role of big money, and a portion of the white working class joined the revolt. The 13-point shift against Trump was three times stronger than the shift in the suburbs that got everyone’s attention.

    2 votes