most electable

David Atkins’ observations on electability—titled Your Theory of Electability is Probably Wrong—provokes thought and is worth a read. His bottom line: “The actual evidence suggests that Democrats should vote for the candidate they would like to be president [at least when choosing among Biden, Warren, and Sanders], and leave the electability arguments at the door.”

Atkins wants us to be very careful about the assumptions we make on electability, and with that I agree. It really is hard to reverse engineer the thinking of someone who obviously does not think at all like you, and to try to figure out what will make some of the Trump crowd peel off and vote for your guy or gal.

However, I don’t agree that the actual evidence—including the evidence presented in the piece—supports the conclusion that Biden, Sanders, and Warren are equally electable. Particularly when you stop staring at the numbers in polls and step back to think about why kind of country are living in today.

First, as Atkins says,

The RealClearPolitics average for Biden, Sanders and Warren against Trump show Biden leading by 5.4%, Sanders by 3.7% and Warren by 1.8% (those numbers for all candidates would look quite rosier if you discarded the IBD/TIPP poll, which appears to be a significant outlier in favor for Trump.) For months the numbers have shown the same thing: Biden leads Sanders by a point or two against Trump, Sanders leads Warren by a point or two, Warren leads other candidates. But all three defeat Trump.

Now, we hope the election won’t be close, but that hope may well be disappointed. If the election is close, then Biden’s small but persistent lead in electability, as measured by the polls, could make the difference between winning or losing.

Second point: I, for one, don’t dismiss out of hand the fond hope that either Sanders or Warren might lead the unwashed messes, including lots of the previously Trumpian unwashed masses, in a revolution against the economic elite. Could happen. Wouldn’t be at all surprised if it did. But the fact is we don’t understand the Trumpian unwashed masses all that well. So the prospect that a whole bunch of uneducated white men might suddenly discover the joy of socialism is not a possibility on which I plan to bet the mortgage money.

By contrast, here is an important thing I believe we know to a high degree of certainty. It is that a Biden candidacy would pick off some of the plutocrats, while a Sanders or Warren candidacy would scare them shitless.

Ladies and germs, we really need to get the more rational of the plutocrats to switch sides in 2020, and to put their votes, their money, their power, and their influence on the side of their long-term enlightened self-interest. Biden would help. Warren or Sanders would hurt.

Put that thought together with what the polling data show, and I think you may form a reasoned judgment as to who is probably more electable than whom.




On the Possible Significance of Midwestern Niceness: Two More Articles for Garment Renders Who Might Want to Look at the Evidence

Midwestern Nice

Ronald Brownstein, Trump’s Base Isn’t Enough: The president needs the voters who approve of his record on the economy but disapprove of him overall. His racist attacks this week only hurt that cause.

After a thorough analysis of America’s swing voters, Ron Brownstein, among the wisest of political pundits, concludes this way:

The central role of the president’s overall approval rating in deciding his reelection fate underscores the conundrum that Trump so vividly demonstrated this week. Across a wide array of public and private polls, he’s not consolidating nearly as much support as previous presidents with voters satisfied with the economy, many of them financially comfortable, suburban, and college-educated. (Those were the same voters who turbocharged the Democratic sweep of affluent metropolitan-area congressional districts in November.) The CNN and ABC/Washington Post polls show Biden winning just under one-fifth of voters who say they approve of Trump’s economic performance, a much higher level of defection than Bush or Obama suffered among the economically satisfied.

By all evidence, those defections are driven at least partly by the divisive confrontations Trump constantly stirs over race, gender, and culture. And yet Trump feels compelled to keep fueling those fights, as he repeatedly did this week, in part because the fires he has already lit may have permanently repelled too many of the voters satisfied with his economic record. He has to double down on stirring turnout from his base through racial and cultural strife to offset his underperformance with swing voters alienated by exactly that behavior. It is as if Trump is on two diverging roads: He has already moved so far down the path of centering 2020 on American identity that he can no longer realistically cross back to focusing it primarily on the economy. He fights over American identity not only because he likes to, but also because, by this point, he must.

Read the whole thing, and find out what Jerry Ford, Jimmy Carter, Bush the Elder, and Donald Trump have in common.

And, because I am a fair and balanced blogger, let me refer you to this article: Nate Cohn, Trump’s Electoral College Edge Could Grow in 2020, Rewarding Polarizing Campaign: Re-election looks plausible even with a bigger loss in the national popular vote.

There you may find some grist for your pessimist mill, should you incline toward pessimism. But, as the article points out, among 2018 voters, Trump’s approval rating was under the 50 percent level in states totaling 310 electoral votes. If that trend holds, he loses in 2020 by 40 electoral votes.

One final comment on what Mr. Cohn has to say—and what he omits. In his analysis, the upper Midwest, particularly Wisconsin, will be the key to victory or defeat. I know the upper Midwest, and I know the Deep South. Ever heard the term “Midwestern nice”? Does the thought behind that term have something to do with prognosticating whether staging more Nazi rallies will play as well in Peoria as it does in North Carolina?