NDN Blog

Biden's mandate, the GA run-offs, the youth vote and more

This essay was originally published on Monday, November 9th.

Biden’s mandate– When all is said and done, President-Elect Biden will likely have won this historic race by 5 points, and hit at least 306 Electoral College votes, the same amount Donald Trump has been claiming is landslide territory these past 4 years.  It was a hard fought and bruising campaign, and we lift our hats this morning to the entire Biden-Harris campaign, particularly its manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon. 

It is great to see the Biden-Harris transition getting off to such a sure-footed start this morning. It is a sign of just how experienced this team is going to be.  In a statement this morning, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris laid out their four initial priorities:  “Joe Biden and I are ready to get COVID-19 under control. We’re ready to rebuild our economy. We’re ready to meet the challenges of the climate crisis. We’re ready to act to address systemic racism. And we’re ready to fight for you.”  A new day indeed. 

In a new Letras Libres magazine article (in English and Spanish), Simon offers his thoughts on what we might see from the new Administration.  Biden’s convincing win gives him a clear mandate to move on his ambitious agenda, as does the remarkable fact that in all but one national election over the past 28 years Democrats have won more votes than the Republicans. This success is a reminder that the Democratic Party has been perhaps the most successful center-left political party in the developed world in recent decades – something that will become even more important as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris go back out and try to rebuild our frayed alliances and improve our degraded standing in the world. 

And finally, NDN wants to acknowledge what a miracle this election was.  The challenges election administrators and volunteers faced across the country were extraordinary.  And yet it has all come off without major incident, in every state, early vote/day of vote/vote by mail, and with record numbers voting.  That we were able to pull off this election despite the challenges was in of itself an affirmation of the gritty, spirited, all in this together America we know is still there, and one we hope will emerge again in the coming months.  

The GA run-offs– Our advice to anyone looking at these Georgia races is to practice a bit of humility.  We really have no idea what is going to happen.  Whether Rs will show up without Trump on the ballot (they didn’t in 2017-2018-2019); what the Trump loss will do to GOP turnout; can Democrats replicate election day turnout in run-offs, something they have struggled to do; what it means for the Democratic political leadership in GA now that they’ve turned the state purple; what Biden and Harris campaigning will do, etc.  

These two races are about as high stakes as it gets, and our expectation that like 2020 itself they will both go down to the wire.  

The youth vote comes through for Democrats– We’ve been writing quite a bit of late about the youth vote and early data suggests that young people (18-29) voted at some of the highest levels we’ve seen in recent decades, and according to the early Exit Polls went for Biden 62-35 (+27), up from 55-36 (+19) for Clinton four years ago.  18-24 year olds went 67-29 (+38), up from 56-34% (+22) four years ago. 

For more on the youth vote in the 2020 election check out the remarkably in-depth early analysis from CIRCLE at Tisch College, Tufts University.  

We will be offering a more in-depth look at this historic election in the coming weeks – stay tuned. 

Analysis: Biden Leads, Early Vote Surge, Young People Voting, GOP Erosion in SW

NDN Pre/Post Election Briefings – We’ve added 3 new election briefings – today at 2pm ET, and post-election briefings the next 2 Wednesdays.  You can register here for any one of them. 

If you can’t make today’s briefing, you can watch our Wednesday briefing here.  It’s about 25 minutes long and full of lively charts, graphs and good news for Democrats. 

2020 Top Lines– 538’s averages a few days out: 

                  Trump Job Approval    - 44.4% Approve, 52.4% Disapprove (8 pts)

                  POTUS Head to Head   - 52% Biden 43.2% Trump (8.8 pts)

                  Congressional Generic – 49.8% Democrat 41.7% Republican (7.1 pts)

In the most recent COVID Navigator tracking poll, Trump’s job approval on COVID was 41%, health care 41%, protests/unrest 39%, the economy only 47%. In a new Navigator deep dive on the protests/unrest, 53% say the President made things worse, only 14% (!!!) say he made things better; only 38% of the US oppose the protests; and only 38% blame the Democrats while 50% blame the President for the unrest. 

To make the race competitive the President has to get to at least 48.5% of the vote. A few days out he’s in the low 40s, even high 30s on almost every measure; has never been above 46% in the polling averages in either Presidential election; and has only been at 48% plus job approval for two days. In the next few days he has to get to a place of approval and support he’s never reached not for one day in the past 5 years; Biden’s hold on MI, MN, PA, WI appears unshakeable; Trump is not leading in a single battleground state outside of margin of error, and is nowhere near 50 in any of them; he and the GOP are being badly outspent; heavy early vote will allow Dems to expand their GOTV targets to lower propensity voters and grow their vote; all COVID measures are rising, rapidly; and the vast early vote just makes it harder for any election treachery by the President and his Attorney General.  In others words, things look good for Biden – and we agree with the campaign’s end game push to expand the electoral map.  It is what makes sense, now, today.  

The Senate looks poised to flip.  AZ, CO and ME appear to be firmly in the Democratic camp; IA and NC are leaning Democrat; and Dems are competitive in and could win any of AK, GA (2), KS, MT, SC. If things break right Dems could get up to 53-54 in the Senate – will be lots of drama here on Election Night.  

The Cook Report’s Dave Wasserman projects the House Democrats gain 5 to 15 seats this year, adding to their considerable majority.  

The Magic of This’s Year’s Explosion of Early Voting– The enormity of the early vote this year makes it feel like something has forever changed in our politics. We will be offering more thoughts on what it all means in the coming days, but in the meantime review our analysis which explains why this early vote makes it harder for the President or others to manipulate the election results; and this thoughtful piece by the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, which includes this passage: 

“We’ve never had an election like this,” Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg told me. “It’s changing the way we do voter contact. When more people vote early, it allows campaigns to target more low-propensity voters that might not otherwise have been targeted."

“This will almost certainly mean that turnout in this election will be at the upper end of what’s possible,” Rosenberg continued.

Young Voters Are Turning Out– In what could be an ominous development for the GOP, the share of young voters voting in this year’s early vote is 20-25% higher than it was 4 years ago.  Given how much bigger the early vote has been many believed the younger voters, who prefer Biden by 20-40 points, would lag a bit in their share of the early vote.  But that hasn’t happened, and as many polls predicted, young voters appear to be highly motivated and turning out in big numbers. 

See this recent NDN analysis on the youth vote; this live tracker of how young people are performing in the early vote put together by NDN and our friends at Clean and Prosperous America; and these stories in PoliticoUS News and the Washington Post.  The Post story contains this passage:  

“It’s the physical and economic dislocation of covid. It was the protests after George Floyd. It’s climate change and the fires we’ve seen. It’s the aftermath of all the good work that was done after Parkland by the gun-safety movement,” said Simon Rosenberg, president of the liberal think tank NDN, who has been tracking youth turnout.

“All of these things, together with a visceral distrust of the president, has created a perfect storm for what could be historic levels of youth turnout this year.”

The GOP’s Erosion in Heavily Mexican American Parts of the US Accelerates –In 2004 George W. Bush won AZ, CO, NM, NV and TX.  In 2020, CO, NM, NV are no longer competitive; AZ is leaning Dem; and Texas is a true toss up.  In addition Democrats have made significant gains in these states down ballot, and even pulled 7 additional House seats from CA in 2018.  The gains Democrats have made in this region of the country is arguably the most meaningful geographic change we’ve seen in US politics in recent years, and one not yet adequately understood.   Here’s our take on this big change from a few months back. 

A new US News analysis does a good job at exploring how much Trump’s xenophobia and protectionism has hurt him in this region.  The piece quotes Simon: “While immigration may not be a top issue in the current debate, it has played a major role in the election – Trump's extremism on the issue has helped push the heavily Mexican American parts of the country even further away from the president and his party, making his Electoral College map far harder, and the Senate far more likely to flip.”

Election Treachery- We like many have become dismayed at the systemic effort by Trump and his right wing allies (including Justice Kavanaugh and other judges) to make it harder for people to vote, and even changing the rules in key states days before the election.  That a major American political party is even thinking about trying to retroactively invalidate ballots legally cast at the time has to be one of the greatest betrayals of our democracy in all of American history; in a democracy, it just simply cannot be possible for a party, through raw power, to toss out legally cast votes that they don’t like – that, friends, is not a democracy any of our Founding Fathers would recognize.  

All of us need to be far louder what is happening here, while we all work to ensure that everyone’s vote is counted, regardless of the whimsy of a failed and ridiculous President. We’ve aggressively advocated (here, herehere) for a crisper narrative around all the President’s cheating – feel like we could use that today.  

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