Analysis: Trump Has A Serious Young Voter Problem (Updated)

Analysis: Trump Has A Serious Young Voter Problem

Every Thursday or Friday NDN publishes its Poll Roundup, a deep dive into recent polling and political trends. You can sign up to receive it each week and feel free to review previous editions too. NDN is also now holding in depth discussions about the 2020 Election every Wednesday at 2pm ET – join us and feel free to invite others too.

In 2007 Pete Leyden and I wrote a long form magazine piece called the “50 Year Strategy” which made the case that two new, large and growing demographic groups – Millennials and Hispanics – had the potential to give Democrats a significant political advantage for many years to come.    We wrote that piece because in the 2006 midterms, these two groups, starting to get to a significant size in the electorate, swung dramatically towards the Democrats.  Hispanics went from 53-44 (9 pts) Dem in 2004 to 69-30 (39 pts) in 2006, and 18-29 year olds went from 54-45 (9 pts) to 60/38 (22 pts).  

2006 was the election where the modern Democratic coalition began to take shape.  Barack Obama leaned into this emergent coalition and rode it to two Presidential victories.  Democrats have outperformed the GOP in 5 of the 7 elections starting with that 2006 election, and in the two that went bad, 2010 and 2014, Democratic performance with these groups was way off (see here for an historical look at this data). 

Like 2006, the 2018 midterms saw Democrats performing at extraordinary levels with these groups. The Hispanic vote went 69-29 (40 pts) for the Dems, rivaling Obama’s 41 point margin in 2012.  But it is with young people where we saw an even bigger movement towards the Democrats, Democrats had their best performance in the modern era with both 18-29 (35 pts) and 18-44 year olds (+25): 

Turnout rose dramatically in 2018 too, as the chart graph below captures. . 

Recent polls show Biden performing at 2018 levels with 18-29 year olds: 

NYT/Siena            Biden 60 Trump 26 (34 pts)  June 2020

CIRCLE/Tisch       Biden 58 Trump 24 (34 pts)  June 2020

Quinnipiac             Biden 63 Trump 27 (36 pts)  (18-34 year olds) Sept 2020

Harvard IOP          Biden 60 Trump 27 (33 pts)  Late Sept 2020

Morning Consult    Biden 65 Trump 27 (38 pts)  Late Sept 2020

In 2016, Trump lost 18-29s by 19 points, 55-36.  So he is 9-12 points below his 2016 numbers here – a truly significant under-performance in a group that is likely to be about 20% of the electorate this year.  A new poll by Clean and Prosperous America, while cutting the data bit differently, also shows big problems for Trump wth the youngest part of the electorate. 

Recent polls from NextGen, CIRCLE and Harvard IOP suggest the higher levels of youth turnout we saw in 2018 are likely to carry over to 2020.  The newly released IOP poll found 18-29 year old vote intent levels equal to or greater than 2008, a year which saw one of the highest youth turnouts in the modern era.   So this age group has swung dramatically towards the Democrats, and could vote in record numbers this year. 

Recent state polls by NYT/Siena give snapshots into how significant this emerging youth problem is for Trump: 

Georgia (45% Biden, 45% Trump) - Trump is tied or leads in all age groups over 30.  Biden leads among 18-29s by 63-34 (29 pts).   3% are undecided or with a third party candidate. 

North Carolina (45% Biden, 44% Trump) – Trump leads in all age groups over 30.  Biden leads among 18-29s by 62-20 (42 pts).   18% are undecided or with a third party candidate. 

Texas (43% Biden, 46% Trump) – Trump leads among 45 plus, Biden has a 45-43 lead with 30-44, and a 60-15 (45 pts) lead with 18-29.  25% are undecided or with a third party candidate.  

Arizona (49% Biden, 40% Trump) – Trump only leads here with 45-64 year olds (remarkably).   Only 18-29s it’s 53-25 Biden (28 pts), and 22% are undecided or with a third party candidate.  

Note the Trump number here – 15, 20, 25, 34.  Rough stuff for him and the Rs. 

New Fox News polls out Thursday have similar spreads:

Nevada (52% Biden, 41% Trump) - Biden leads with voters over 45 49-45; he leads with 18-34s by 63-27 (36 pts) and 10% are undecided or with a third party candidate. 

Ohio (50% Biden, 45% Trump) - Biden leads with voters over 45 49-47; he leads with 18-34s 58-35 (23 pts) and 7% are undecided or with a third party candidate. 

Pennsylvania (51% Biden, 44% Trump) - Biden leads with voters over 45 49-46; he leads with 18-34s 64-31 (33 pts) and 5% are undecided or with a third party candidate.

We did some rough calculations about what this means for 2020.  Assuming 18-29 year olds are once again 19% of the electorate (as they were in 2016), and turnout is 10% higher across the board (this may be conservative), if 18-29s end up +35 for Biden it means a 5-6m vote gain for Biden, or 2.5-3pts in the race.  And if Biden’s lead is about 7 pts, 50.5 to 43.5 now, this means that this shift just among 18-29 year olds accounts for at least half of the 5 point shift towards Biden we’ve seen since 2016 (Clinton +2 to Biden +7). 

In many of these polls the number of 18-29 year olds (in many cases 30-44 year olds too) who are currently undecided or supporting a third party candidate is much higher than the older electorates.  This suggests a few things.  First, it means that a plurality or even majority of the undecideds left in the race are in age cohorts which favor Democrats – bad news for Trump.  It also suggests that the Biden and other Democratic campaigns should be spending heavily now on winning over the younger voters who remain uncommitted and pushing turnout as high it can be.  Young voters, particularly 18-29s remain a very powerful area of opportunity for Democrats in the home stretch.  But like all voters Democrats should only expect them to vote for them if they are asked, and asked in culturally appropriate and compelling ways.  Both the CIRCLE poll and the new one from Clean and Prosperous America suggest that Democratic campaigns still have work to do to reach and connect with many millons of these young voters still very open to voting for them. 

As for Hispanics, our view now is that Biden is likely to come close to Democratic 2016 and 2018 margins of 38 and 40 pts.  The polling with Hispanics has been all over the place, and this is a voting group which is hard to poll due to the requirement of needing truly bi-lingual phone banks to get an accurate sample.  There are polls showing Biden below Clinton’s 2016 numbers, but there also polls showing Trump below his 2016 results.  The best recent national poll of Hispanics (NBC/Telemundo) had it 62-26 - so a 36 point lead for Biden with many undecideds. Trump is 2 points below his 28% 2016 result here, and it is likely that the undecideds break heavily towards Biden, which would get him up to the high 30s, low 40s as late undecideds usually break towards the challenger and the Biden campaign has an awful lot of material work with.  Again what we are seeing here is Trump below his 2016 number with a critical emerging part of the electorate.  

So while Biden may not be seeing a big swing with Hispanics as he is with younger voters, even keeping Clinton’s 38 pt margin means that he will gain votes as the Hispanic electorate grows meaningfully every two years; and it is possible that +40 with Hispanics really is the upper limit with this constituency, and that Democrats got to its upper limit here earlier than they did with younger voters.  

This analysis has been updated since it was originally published on September 24th. Some enw data became available and we included it in the current version.

Is McConnell leading the GOP off an electoral and political cliff?

Is McConnell leading the GOP off an electoral and political cliff?

In DC, Senator Mitch McConnell has a reputation as a savvy operator, but we may remember this year as the year the 78 year old Republican leader started showing his age and lost his grip on the complicated politics of the nation and its capital city. 

His brazen manipulation of the Impeachment process left many his swing state Senators, all of whom voted to acquit a clearly guilty man, trailing in their races.   He’s enabled the President’s great failure on COVID, and has not stepped up with a second fiscal package to ease the pain of American workers, giving his candidates little or nothing to say on the two biggest issues of the election.  And now Justice Ginsberg’s tragic passing.  He jumped out quickly, dishonoring her legacy, and committed the Senate GOP to an indefensible and ugly power grab right before the election, one that more likely than not will remind voters just how extreme the Republican Party has become.  And this last point really matters – if in poll after poll 57% of the country is not with your Presidential candidate, and you are losing the Senate, and likely to lose seats in the House, why would those same voters who are in the process of rejecting your party reward a nasty act to seize more power right as its being taken away? 

In our view, McConnell misread this moment, as he has misread the other big ones this year.  Democratic challengers have strong leads in AZ and CO, smaller but meaningful leads in IA, ME, NC, and are competitive in at least six more races, AK, GA (2), KS, MT and SC.  Perhaps the strategy is to try to give his struggling red state incumbents a bit of a boost.  But how this plays out in those other states – GA, IA, ME, NC – could determine the fate of his majority.  And what is hard for us to see here today is how these swing suburban voters who‘ve fled the GOP in recent years are going to embrace a move which ensures the ending of Roe vs Wade, the end of the ACA and all that it brought and means more high powered guns on our streets and more dead children? The country is rejecting the current radicalism of the GOP, not asking for more of it.  

And early polls confirm our analysis.  A poll by GOP pollster Scott Rasmussen found voters wanted to wait until after the election to move ahead with Ginsburg’s replacement 52-41; a new Reuters poll found it breaking 62-23 (40 points!) for waiting till the next President.  If these polls hold, and they are likely to, it means that moving now on a new SCOTUS appointment could actually hurt the GOP more than it helps – in a race where they already trail, where Democrats are raising records amount of money and will outspend the GOP, and where initial data suggests Democrats have become highly energized by what’s happening here ($100m raised in 48 hours) and are likely now to enter this final stretch with more intensity than the Rs.  

Two Republican Senators have already said wait till next year.  Two more and Trump and McConnell will not have the votes to move.  I don’t think we can count on the GOP sticking together in the coming days – the new precedent set by the GOP in 2016 regarding election year appointments left lots of video which is going to wear down and hurt Senators in their districts; moving now is unpopular; and there just at some point have to be limits to the GOP’s corruption, lying, cheating and increasingly illiberal behavior.  We don’t think picking a far judge right before an election while going back on a precedent is going to bring back any lost GOP votes.  It may give the GOP a consolation prize for what is likely to be a bad election, but this one feels like a truly desperate act, one which we predict will over the long term do the GOP and the country far more harm than good. 

Analysis: Biden running strong, the Hispanic vote, Senate leans Dem, more

Analysis – Biden running strong, a look at Hispanic voters, Senate leans Dem, more

Every Thursday or Friday NDN publishes its Poll Roundup, a deep dive into recent polling and political trends. You can sign up to receive it each week and feel free to review previous editions too. NDN is also now holding in depth discussions about the 2020 Election every Wednesday at 2pm ET – join us and feel free to invite others too. 

Top line– the basic contours of the race haven’t changed since last week’s Poll Roundup. Biden has a large, sturdy lead, is strong in the battlegrounds, and Dems have an advantage in the Senate.

We’ve entered a new phase in the general election.  The Biden campaign has started rolling out more state and demographic specific media, and in-person voting has begun.  Democrats continue to put up impressive fundraising numbers, and will likely outspend the GOP in the closing days.  The debates are coming – Sept 29, Oct 7, 15, 22 – and Trump’s extraordinary efforts to cheat/manipulate show no sign of abating.  With FEC reports coming out in a few days we will also learn a lot more about the financial health of the Trump campaign – something that could matter a great deal this fall.  

Biden’s emerging strength in the battleground states perhaps is the most important electoral development this week.  He is at or almost at 50% in states equaling 273 electoral votes, including MI, MN, NH, PA and WI.  He also leads in AZ, FL, ME-2, NC and NV, and is within 1-2 points in GA, IA, OH and TX. Statistically at this point we are closer to Biden winning all of these states then we are Trump making the race competitive.  The campaigns are both on the air in AZ, MI, MN, NC, NV, PA, WI – read this CNN analysis to get an in-depth look at what’s happening with campaign ads and state/demo targeting.  Continued strong polling from Arizona this week for the Democrats remains a very significant development in the campaign. if Arizona slips away, Trump has to flip at least 2 of MI, MN, NH, PA, WI – all states Biden is far ahead in, and at or over 50.  

Hispanics– In a new thread Simon takes an in-depth look at recent polling with Hispanics, and doesn’t find some of the weakness we’ve been hearing about. He characterizes it more as “not yet realized opportunity.” In new high quality polls this week in AZ and FL Biden is matching Clinton’s 2016 numbers, which is a problem for Trump – bigger Hispanic electorates in these and other states means for Trump to prevent Dems from gaining votes he actually has to INCREASE his share not just hold.  There just isn’t any evidence this is happening anywhere.  There is some data suggestion Biden underperformance wit Hispanics and more broadly in Nevada, which is why I think the campaign has gone up on the air in recent weeks.  

Finally, given Trump’s record, I think almost two months of heavy engagement by the Biden campaign with Hispanic voters could do a lot of damage to Trump and get Biden up over Clinton’s strong 2016 showing with Hispanics everywhere.  Why we view the current state of Biden and Hispanics as one of unrealized opportunities, and not in any way a weakness or problem.  

Monday update - A new NBC/Telemundo poll has Biden beating Trump with Hispanics 62-26, 36 points.  In 2016 Clinton won them 66-28, 38 points.  It's another sign that Biden is holding his own here, and yet another poll showing Trump BELOW his 2016 totals.  In the past week Monmouth in FL, Equis in AZ and now this national poll have Trump below his 2016 numbers with Hispanics. 

Either way this poll is a reminder that there is a lot of vote out here still to be gotten, and that of course is far more problematic for the incumbent than the challenger. 

The Senate– AZ and CO continue to look very strong for the Democrats, and polling continues to show Dems with meaningful leads in ME and NC.  While polling for Theresa Greenfield in Iowa has been very steady for months a new poll showed Earnt with a lead – so let’s wait and see there.  Harrison and Ossoff  have made their races competitive in SC and GA, and while Bullock has had a few not so good polls in Montana, he remains a very strong candidate.  AK and KS are underperforming for the Rs so we need to keep an eye on both of them.  Bottom line – the Senate leans Dem but it is going to go down to the wire.  

All the President’s Cheating– It’s becoming increasing clear that out and out cheating has become central to Trump’s understanding of how to stay in power this year.  We think far more attention had to be paid to the President’s illicit appropriation of government resources for his campaign (what got him Impeached); the erasure of the line between campaign and government; clear election law violations; undermining of the integrity election and rancid voter suppression; the holding of rallies which violate COVID protocols and common sense; the relentless lying, disinformation and use of manipulated media…..cheating has become a central strategic pillar of Trump’s campaign, up there with paid advertising, candidate visits, GOTV, debate prep.  It is wrong, illiberal and needs to be far more aggressively challenged in the days ahead. 

Analysis: Biden Retains A Sturdy Lead, Focusing On The President’s Cheating

Analysis: Biden Retains A Sturdy Lead, Need More Focus On The President’s Rampant Cheating

Every Thursday NDN publishes its Thursday Poll Roundup, a deep dive into recent polling and political trends. You can sign up to receive it each week and feel free to review previous editions too. NDN is also now holding in depth discussions about the 2020 Election every Wednesday at 2pm ET – join us and feel free to invite others too. 

Summary – The Presidential race remains pretty static and stable, with Biden holding a 7.6 pt lead (50.5/42.9) in the 538 polling average this morning. While the President has gotten a few good polls in Florida this week, there has been no significant shift in the battlegrounds and Biden still retains sizable leads in 4 key states – AZ (Biden leads by 5.1 pts in the 538 polling average), MI (7.4), PA (5.1) and WI (7.1).  In each of these states Biden is at 49 or above, reminding us, as we wrote last week, If Biden can gain just a single point in the coming weeks, up to 51.5%, he will be over 50 in the core battlegrounds and will be in control of the race.

For Trump to win he will have to win 2 of those 4 states (assuming he wins the remainder of the close battleground now).   This will require him to gain 5.1 points net, and turn a 7.6 pt Biden lead to a 2.5 pt one.  2.5 pts is 51.25 to 48.75, which means Trump is will have to get up to 48.5% -49% to have a shot.  

Getting up to 48-49% is going to be very hard for Trump.  Late undecideds usually break against incumbents, not for them.  He and Republicans are going be outspent down the stretch.  He’s only hit 48-49% job approval for a few days in the earliest day of his Presidency. Using the Real Clear Politics poll averages, Trump HAS NEVER been above 45% against either Clinton or Biden, and only got to 46% in 2016 for about 48 hours at the end of the race (Rs received 44.8% of the vote in the 2018 House races). Getting to 48-49% will require him to get a place of job approval and vote share he’s never earned before – no easy thing given the state of things today.   

As we wrote on Monday, it’s hard to see an issue path forward for him.  The economy is realistically his only card to play, and he will have to somehow convince the country his record of worst job loss since Hoover, worst deficit since WWII, millions losing health insurance, give ways to companies and rich people is worthy of a second term.  Yesterday revelations about his lying about COVID and his manipulation of the intelligence about threats to the homeland will make it far harder for him to use COVID or “law and order” to his advantage.

We don’t yet know how these two big new understandings of Trump’s mendacity are going to play out, but they are far more likely to make any potential rebound for the President more challenging. There were already faint signs of the race moving slightly against the President in the daily trackers over the past few days.  As we’ve written, even a shift of a point against the President would be very perilous now.  We should all watch the daily trackers in the days ahead…….

Will Biden Expand the Battlefield?– Now that we know Democrats are likely to outspend the Republicans in the home stretch, the Biden campaign has some interesting decisions to make about whether it expands its targets both geographically and demographically.  The campaign is currently on the air in 9 states – AZ, FL, MI, MN, NC, NV, OH, PA, WI.  Will they add GA, IA and TX to the mix? With Trump cash strapped and struggling there is an argument for spreading him as wide as possible; creating a degree of complexity and difficultly that will be hard for the Trump campaign to manage.  We will keep watching this important strategic call in the days ahead.  

All The President’s Cheating– In a new GEN Magazine essay, I argue that we all need to be paying far more attention to the President’s extensive cheating this cycle.  As his campaign struggles, the President appears to relying on and exploring far more on illicit ways of staying in power.  This is no small matter, as it was cheating and outside manipulation which allowed Trump to win in 2016.  It’s my belief we should be making far more of Trump’s lawlessness in this campaign and be challenging it far more aggressively in the days ahead.  Do read the essay – it is worth your time.   

On Labor Day, the President Is Losing and Has No Clear Path Forward

On Labor Day, A President Losing and Without A Clear Path Forward

On this Labor Day, the official start of the “home stretch,” let’s take a look at the race and how important economic issues are now and will be in its final days. 

First, the race itself. Most of the big post-Convention polls have come in and their findings have been remarkably consistent – Donald Trump’s Convention failed to alter the trajectory of a race he’s losing by 7-9 points. His numbers in the battleground states remain problematic, particularly in must wins AZ and WI.  Democrats are more likely than not to flip the Senate, and Democratic candidates at all levels are raising historic amounts of money.  It’s not a pretty picture for Trump and the GOP two months out. 

We also learned that at least for now the big investment the President has made in blaming Joe Biden for the unrest we are seeing simply isn’t working.   The questions have been asked in different ways in the polls, but the new CBS poll released yesterday was pretty representative of where the polls have been this week: 

Calm the situation - Biden 49 Trump 39

Encourage the fighting – Trump 47 Biden 30

Make you feel more safe – Biden 48 Trump 43

Approve of handling of protests – Biden 51 Trump 44

Better way to end the protests – Police reform 60, punish protestors 25

It’s true in some polls support for Black Lives Matter and the protests have declined.  But those declines do not necessarily hurt Biden, as one can worry about the protests but still be with Biden on his response to them. Last week Biden’s campaign did a very good job taking on Trump’s attacks head on, and carving out a cogent and clear position on the unrest.  Whatever opening Trump had here we think has been blown, for once again the President advanced an extreme position rather than a consensus one.  Encouraging high schoolers to illegally acquire assault weapons and kill people is not something any suburban mom wants from their President, nor is encouraging and excusing police violence. It’s possible these issues turn against Biden at some point, but as of today we think the adroit Biden campaign has gained the upper hand and can win this complex and vital debate about race, policing, protest and public safety in the coming months.  

COVID Navigator chart from last week captures the challenge for those making strategy for the Trump campaign now:

Trump Job Approval  Approva/Disapprove

His job as President   43/55

Health Care                41/55

Corona                        43/55

The Economy             49/49

The Protests               41/54

If are you running the Trump campaign, and you are sitting at 42-43%, and you need to get up to 48-49%, what would you do? How do you get there? Playing the protests hard hasn’t worked, and risks continued exposure of the President’s extremism.  COVID is more likely to be worse by November than better. Your position in the midst of a pandemic is to take away health insurance and pre-existing condition coverage from Americas while your opponent was the lead in passing a popular and effective modernization of the health care system.  Legitimate questions about your candidate’s patriotism are being asked. Where do you go, what do you do? For the game now is not just taking Biden down but you have to improve your candidate’s standing to make the race competitive. 

It’s clear the President has to try to spend the final months living in the only place where gets up into the high 40s and that’s the economy.  But consider how hard that will be to sustain – Trump is running with one of the worst economic records in US history.  He will be the first President since Hoover to see net job loss on his watch; the deficit is hitting its worst annual rate since WWII; millions have lost their health insurance; the trade deficit has exploded.  And yes the stock market has performed well but of course that will become an opening for Biden to go after Trump for his give-away-to-the wealthy and blow-the-deficit tax cut.  It’s not easy to see how Trump wins this debate against Biden, who will also be able to evoke the important role he played in helping lead America out of the last Republican-caused recession.  

We have to remind ourselves that the President was so scared of running against Joe Biden that he committed High Crimes and was impeached over them earlier this year.  He’s continued his desperate law breaking and cheating, sabotaging the postal service, wrecking the census, incessantly and illegaly using tax payer dollars to support his re-election, creating an illegal 3rdparty strawman candidate, clearing a path for Russia to once again come to his aid and every day it seems doing something to undermine our collective confidence in our election system.  

In 2016 this cheating and election manipulation worked for Trump. It made his long shot campaign competitive, and he squeaked it out in the end.  And that’s why we have to view all this cheating as part of his electoral strategy. If he can shave off a point or two through each of these strategic initiatives – mail ballots being lost, voter suppression/confusion, Kayne’s lunacy, hundreds of millions of free and paid media stolen from tax payers, Russia’s ongoing efforts, who knows what else to come from Barr or others - then he can make another long shot race close at the end, and then anything can happen. But they have to make it close, and that’s what worries us the most.  It’s not clear he can make it close through traditional politics as we just reviewed.  So the cheating becomes more important, essential.  

It is Labor Day 2020 and things look bleak for the President and his party.  Perhaps there is no greater measure of that then the scale of the cheating we are seeing and will likely continue to see in the days ahead. But this cheating is very risky. People are breaking laws, and getting caught. State AGs are getting involved, who are outside the reach of Barr and the President’s pardon power.  And it is going to be very hard to defend this lawlessness in the upcoming debates, where it is certainly going to be an issue.  

Joe Biden and his campaign have had a very good few weeks and head into the final stretch with a bit of wind at their backs, a good candidate in touch with who he is, a clear plan for the future, lots of money, a strong leadership team and an united party behind him and his exciting partner, Senator Kamala Harris.  

Analysis: Biden Taking Control of the Race, Trump Goes On A Crime Spree

Biden Taking Control of the Race, Trump Goes On A Crime Spree

Every Thursday NDN publishes its Thursday Poll Roundup, a deep dive into recent polling and political trends. You can sign up to receive it each week and feel free to review previous editions too.

Top Line- So the post-Convention polls have started rolling out and most of them are finding Joe Biden ahead of Trump by 7-9 points.  The 538 average has the race at Biden 50.2% Trump 42.9%, plus 7.3 for Biden.  But what matters most is that in the two sets of polls from battleground states (Morning ConsultFox News) Biden is at 49 or above in every state polled except Ohio and Texas.  Why does that matter? For it means that if the Biden-Harris ticket picks up a single percentage point nationally and in these states – just a single point - he will at 50+1 in AZ, FL, GA, MI, MN, NC, PA, WI and will then be not just ahead, but winning the election.   

The Fox News state polls have to be particularly rough for Trump this morning, as they find the President far behind even after his 4 day Convention in 3 critical states which in most scenarios are must wins for him: 

AZ  Biden 49% Trump 40%

NC Biden 50% Trump 46%

WI Biden 50% Trump 42%

A reminder that, historically, most late undecided voters break for the challenger, against the incumbent.  They’ve looked at the incumbent, know the incumbent, and just don’t want to go there. It’s what’s happening with Trump now, who seems stuck at 42-43% nationally.  While we think it’s possible he claws up to 45-46% it just clear how much vote is left for him out there above where’s he sitting today.  He only got to 46% in 2016 even with the help of Russia/Comey/Stein (which was in our view was 2-3 pts); the GOP received 44.8% in the 2018 midterms; and Trump has only seen his approval rating top 46% for a few days of his Presidency.  For the past 4 years, including the 2016 election, the President has bounced around in the low 40s, only hitting 45-46% for a few days and never getting above 46% in any head to head with either Clinton or Biden.  Just really hard to see how 45-46% isn’t his ceiling this year  - and that just isn’t going to be enough for him to make the race competitive.  

If must win states like AZ and WI really are starting to track the national spread it means that Trump may actually after to win the popular vote to win the electoral college this time something that just seems out of reach for him. 

Finally, Democrats are going to be very loud down the stretch, far louder than in 2016.  Not only are Democratic candidates raising historic levels of money up and down the ticket, Democrats have all the candidates who won in 2018 for Governor, Congress etc running for re-election or aiding the Biden campaign.  The success of Mark Kelly in Arizona, Theresa Greenfield in Iowa, Cal Cunningham and Roy Cooper in North Carolina, or Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, Tony Evers in Wisconsin all gives even greater permission for late breaking undecideds to vote Democrat this time.  Cannot understand the impact of all these new great candidates and elected who were not there in 2016 – it makes the collective voice of the Democratic Party far louder, and compelling.  All of this – the money, the talent, a competent Biden campaign, the power of Kamala Harris – will make the Democratic Party’s close far more formidable than 2016. That too should be worrying Donald Trump this morning. 

The President’s Focus on The Unrest Isn’t Working– There just isn’t a lot of evidence that the President’s months long focus on blaming Joe Biden for the unrest we are seeing is working, or is working sufficiently to change the trajectory of the race.   My favorite data point on this is from yesterday’s Navigator daily track which found that only 10% of Democrats and independents thought “violent crime” was among the most important issues facing the country, far far behind things like defeating COVID and the economy which were both way up over 50%.  That track also found Trump’s approval on “the protests” at 41%-54% - again, a bad sign.  A new Morning Consult/Politico poll found 47% of voters trust Biden to handle public safety issues, compared to just 39% for Trump

The Biden campaign clearly recognized that if they didn’t engage the President could make all this into an issue, so they did what a competent campaign does – they engaged. The VP gave a good speech, is heading to Kenosha today and has launched a major ad buy with the VP talking directly to voters about all this.  At the end of the day the VP will end up winning this debate with the President for the President’s position is extreme – ignore police brutality, encourage kids to go illegally acquire guns and kill people? – and the VP’s position, as he spelled it out this week, is common sense, an approach which works and which can garner broad support.  Whatever opening was there for the President will not be there much longer as he once again – like every other issue this year – descends into extremism, Hannityism, and loses any chance of improving his standing and gaining votes.  

All the President’s Cheating– What should worry and outrage everyone is the scale of the President’s cheating right now.  We’ve been writing about this a great deal in recent weeks (here,here,here) for the President won only through cheating in 2016; attempted to cheat in 2019 with the crazy Ukraine scandal and was caught and Impeached; and is now on what we’ve been calling a crime spree.  It really is incredible what’s happening now – the sabotage of the USPS, the wrecking of the Census, the illegal use of the federal government to aid his re-election (many many examples), the fake Kayne campaign, the relentless attack on the legitimacy of mail voting and the election itself (designed to suppress vote, law ground work for an illicit challenge), the increasing use of manipulated media, and perhaps most pernicious of all the clearing the path for Putin to return and once again help his friend in his election.  

Yes Biden-Harris need to stay focused on COVID, the economy, health care, healing the nation – all that. But Trump cheated his way to victory in 2016 and is attempting to do it again. We all should be doing more to stop him. It’s a rancid betrayal of our democracy with no analog in US history. It’s Watergate x100.  Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised given his history and the history of the post Reagan GOP (FL 2000, a decade of illegal redistricting and voter suppression, government shutdowns, Merrick Garland, the suppression of witnesses and evidence at the Senate Impeachment “trial”) but the cheating we are seeing is not something that is compatible with a democracy, and needs to be more aggressively challenged in the days ahead.  

In Salon Interview, Simon Talks About The Future of the Dems, Trump's Illiberalism

To mark this week’s Democratic Convention, we send along a newly published interview of Simon by Chauncey DeVega of Salon, the on-line magazine.  It covers a lot of ground, and includes an extended section about the how the Democratic Party has been, through a period of repeated modernization and innovation, the most successful center-left political party in the developed world, and has been for some time.  These are the themes we hit in our signature presentation, “With Democrats Things Get Better,” which will be shown again next Wednesday.  Try to sit in if you can. 

The interview also does a deep dive on a subject NDN has invested a great deal of energy in over the past four years – countering the rise of illiberal politics, here in the US and abroad.  With the Senate releasing clear, incontrovertible evidence of the President’s partnering with Russia to cheat his way to victory in 2016, we need to make sure we are not now – on the postal service, on his use of the White House for partisan reasons, his corrupting of the IG system and DOJ itself, the Kayne absurdity, on Russia’s return – looking the other way; but rather as we’ve been arguing on the President’s recent sabotage of the postal servicefighting him with everything we have.  It is what our democracy, and all democracies deserve – a vigorous defense, a plan for victory. 

While here, feel free to check out our regular series of pieces looking at the 2020 election including significant deep dives on recent national and state polling; our months long advocacy for the need for a national strategy to defeat COVID; Rob Shapiro’s new Washington Monthly essay on how the GOP is flirting once again with ushering in an all-out depression; Simon’s extensive commentary in Ron Brownstein’s New Atlantic piece on Trump’s weaponization of the USPS and Census, “Just How Far Will Trump Go?” and Mike Tomasky’s rave review of our new presentation, “With Democrats Things Get Better” in the Daily Beast. 

Other work you may have find of interest: 

Congress, States, Cities Must Rise Up, Fight for the USPS – 8/13/20 - NDN is encouraging elected officials from across the country to rise up and help end the President's sabotage of the postal service. 

Taking Trump’s Ongoing Assault On Our Democracy Seriously - 8/10/20 - The President is on a political crime spree - breaking laws, cheating in the election, encouraging Russia to intervene on his behalf - again.   We cannot let him get away with it - again.

Returning to School Is Going To Be Very Hard – 8/3/20 - Just like the President has left the nation to fend for itself in fighting COVID, he is leaving all of us, and our children, to go it alone on returning to school.  It is "tragic and grotesque." 

Analysis: Another Week of Ghastly Polls for the GOP, Loud Dems, Trump’s Illiberalism -  7/25/20 - Our weekly look at 2020 polling finds more brutal poll numbers for the GOP, Dems building a 2020 juggernaut and mystification and worry about Trump's emerging strategy for staying in power.

Analysis: Should Dems Go For It? - 7/9/20 - The Biden campaign faces a big strategy choice in the coming days - how manystates to play in? How big should the battlefield be? Argument for going big is very compelling right now. 

The Coming Reckoning With Russia - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 6/29/20- Someday, soon, America will have to look at and make sense of Russia’s years of attacks on our interests, its penetration of our political system, its brazen manipulation of our President.  It will be a very ugly but necessary process.

Congress, States, Cities Must Rise Up, Fight for the USPS

Congress, States, Cities Must Rise Up, Fight for the USPS

It’s our hope that in the coming days there is a national uprising against the President’s purposeful sabotaging of one of America’s most important institutions, one created by the Constitution itself, the United States Postal Service. 

NDN is encouraging every government jurisdiction in the nation to begin a formal process to challenge what the President is doing – hold hearings, demand/subpoena Postmaster General DeJoy to testify, investigate and sue/prosecute if necessary.  This has to be an all-out, universal push back from every corner of the country. 

Why? Because by holding back monies and taking other steps to undermine the USPS, the President is harming people in every town, city, and state in the country.  He’s making it harder for businesses of every size to operate, thus slowing the economic recovery; he’s making it harder for people to receive their life saving medicines, and people will surely die in every state from unnecessary delays; every election in the country for every single office, not just the Presidency, will be degraded, and potentially millions of Americans could see their votes invalidated.  

In a time of social distancing and a raging pandemic, we are all relying more on the mail and package delivery to keep us safe.  Frankly, there is something depraved and even sadistic about the furious disabling of the postal service we are seeing right now.  

There is time for the President and Congress to come together behind a deal to give the postal service the resources it needs to help the American people successfully navigate the pandemic.  In these challenging times, the postal service should be getting all the resources it needs; the longer term questions about its role can wait until a time when Americans can leave their homes safely again.  States and localities should be putting as much pressure on Washington as possible to force a deal in the next few weeks.  

Those working to ensure the integrity of the postal service will be able to use the President’s statements from the last few days against him. This came this morning -  “Now, they need that money in order to make the Post Office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said in an interview on Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. He added: “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped.” 

And the Washington Post reported on his remarks yesterday in the White House this way:

….President Trump says the U.S. Postal Service is incapable of facilitating mail-in voting because it cannot access the emergency funding he is blocking, and made clear that requests for additional aid were nonstarters in coronavirus relief negotiations.

Trump, who has been railing against mail-in balloting for months, said the cash-strapped agency’s enlarged role in the November election would perpetuate “one of the greatest frauds in history.” Speaking Wednesday at his daily pandemic news briefing, Trump said he would not approve $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service, or $3.5 billion in supplemental funding for election resources, citing prohibitively high costs.

“They don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting. So therefore, they can’t do it, I guess,” Trump said. “Are they going to do it even if they don’t have the money?”

……The final reason we must rise up in the days ahead is that we also must begin a formal process of pushing back on the rampant and unprecedented election cheating and dirty tricks we are seeing from the President and his allies now.  If we don’t push back, forcefully, the President will keep escalating, and the possibility of the US having a free and fair election this fall will be ever more in doubt.  We can’t let that happen.  

Let’s get to work people. 

Wednesdays at NDN - A Weekly Deep Dive on the 2020 Election

A quick note to invite you, your friends and colleagues to the 2020 election series we are calling “Wednesdays at NDN.”  Each Wednesday at 2 pm ET we conduct a live session looking at the election, rotating each week between two different presentations.  Just bookmark that time and try to make as many of these as you can. 

Wednesdays at NDN rotate between two presentations:

With Democrats Things Get Better – This is our signature 2020 presentation, and a deep dive into the performance of the two political parties over the past generation of American politics.  This too is about a 25 minute presentation, with 30 minutes of discussion which follows.  You can learn more about this presentation and the broader project behind it here and read Mike Tomasky’s glowing review of “With Dems” in the Daily Beast.  Our next showings of “With Dems” will be on Sept 23rd  – sign up now if you want to reserve an early spot - and October 7th.  Feel free to invite friends and colleagues - all are welcome. 

The 2020 Poll Roundup – A live look at recent national polling, this Wednesday presentation dives into the most current data the way political analysts do.  Along the way you will not only get up to speed on all this important election, but you will learn how to analyze public opinion data the way the pros do.   The presentation is live over Zoom, takes about 25 minutes and we will leave 30 minutes for discussion.  Our next Poll Roundup will be held on and September 30th. Feel free to invite friends and colleagues - all are welcome. 

We hope to see you at a future event, and feel free to invite others.  The more the merrier for Wednesdays at NDN!

Taking Trump’s Ongoing Assault On Our Democracy Seriously

Taking Trump’s Ongoing Assault On Our Democracy Seriously

In an NBC News column a while back, Glenn Kirschner, MSNBC legal analyst and former prosecutor, made a really compelling point – the current DOJ policy preventing the indictment of a sitting President, whether just or not, should not apply to crimes against our democracy, or cheating to win an election.  “If a president can act unlawfully to influence an election,” Kirschner wrote, “he does not deserve the protections of his ill-gotten office. This incongruity encourages lawlessness in the quest for the presidency and then rewards that lawlessness by inoculating the criminal president against prosecution. Such a construct is dangerous.”

In my conversations with Kirschner we discussed how this absurd formulation has created a massive incentive for American Presidential candidates to cheat and cheat big – for the candidate who doesn’t cheat, loses; or if you cheat just a little bit you lose and can be indicted.  The candidate who cheats in a big way and wins escapes prosecution.  We are in such a horrific situation right now with President Trump.  Trump is struggling to win a traditional free and fair election and has begun cheating/law breaking/ignoring the Constitution at a level never seen before in an American election (this thread details all the ways Trump is cheating now – it’s an exhausting list).  

And Trump does all this knowing that if he wins AG Barr will be there to ensure he isn’t indicted, and if staff broke laws getting him elected – even working directly with Russian intelligence assets – he can pardon them (as he did Roger Stone example).  As Kirschner predicted, there is no reason once you start cheating to do it at the margins of an election – you just have to go for it.  For if you cheat and lose, you and your team can be indicted.  Immunity only comes from winning or staying in power illicitly.  

That Trump is a cheater/law breaker/criminal is well established.  Despite all the cover the AG has given him, the President is under criminal investigation in NY for tax and insurance fraud.  A trial involving rape allegations against the President is moving forward.  Michael Cohen went to jail for their plan to repeatedly break election law in 2016, and the Trump family foundation’s law breaking (including 2016 election law) was so extreme the foundation was dissolved by the state of New York.  We know the President accept and encouraged illicit help in 2016, and even built and designed campaign strategy around information Russian assets provided to the campaign in advance.  And then there is whatever drove Comey to make his dramatic intervention ten days out in 2016 – a move which gave a losing Trump campaign an ill-gotten victory.  Trump was Impeached in 2019 over a truly brazen and months- long effort involving senior leaders of his government to cheat in the current election – a lawless move which was given sanction by the Attorney General and the Senate Republicans.  

The political crime spree the President is on right now has no precedent in American history.  He is breaking/damaging ancient foundations of our democracy – the Postal Service, the Census, Separation of Powers, our Election itself.  He’s using the vast powers of the US government to illegally aid his re-election every day, every day – it’s the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars of campaign spending paid by you, me and other American taxpayers.  The absurd, fake Kayne campaign. Russia has returned, and this time the collusion is out in the open, overt; and this time, the government is providing intentional cover for Russia’s intervention, laundering it to make it legitimate.  The President asked China for electoral help, his Ambassador to Brazil asked the Brazilian government for electoral help too.   He’s invented a domestic terror threat which doesn’t exist.  He’s using authoritarian means to stifle domestic dissent, and is threatening an all-out war by the United States government itself against “The Radical Left” (whatever that is).  His Presidency has become an orgy of illiberalism – and as we see in the crack downs in Hong Kong and Belarus, we cannot look the other way, pretend this isn’t happening here.  Trump has shown too much admiration and kinship with authoritarian oppressors throughout the world for us to believe it cannot happen here.  Of course it can.  

In 2016 the media and political elites were slow to recognize the illicit activity which helped give Trump an ill-gotten win.  We naively “waited for Mueller.”  The Republican burying of Trump’s Impeachment – essentially not even allowing a Constitutionally required trial – was for us here at NDN a “Crossing the Rubicon” moment, a moment when the US was no longer really a functioning democracy as we have been taught to understand them.   And so here we are, the place Rep. Adam Schiff and my friend Glenn Kirscher predicted we would be – the President has launched enormous effort to stay in power using all means necessary.  He’s in the process of denying America a free and free election.  He is cheating and breaking American election law at a truly massive scale, right now, every day, in front of our eyes.  His partner, Putin, has returned, and is aiding his re-election again.  There simply is no reason to believe he is going to leave office without a fight.  

Yes I know there are big issues in front of our campaigns now – COVID, our recession/depression, return to school, health care, climate, fighting systemic racism.  But we all must find time in this challenging time to talk about what our President is doing to our democracy itself.  It is a betrayal of country without peer or precedent.  We simply have to do everything we can to make it harder for him to cheat, or stay in power illicitly. We have to prepare the American people for the struggle ahead, and we have to fight – using the Congress, state legislatures and Governors, Attorney Generals and city prosecutors.  The director of the USPS should be in front of Congress explaining himself TOMORROW not in mid-September.  If state and local laws are being violated by Trump prosecutions should happen.  State AGs can subpoena the USPS, WH COS Meadows, others in the WH and ask them to explain in public what they are doing.  Our electeds in the states should hold hearings and events educating the public about how to vote, and the threats we see.  There has to be an enormous national effort to not just defeat Trump in a traditional election but to defend our democracy from his ongoing assault.  But that starts with not looking the other way, pretending there are more important issues to talk about – we can wage both a traditional campaign, and a campaign to preserve our democracy.  We have no choice really.  We can and must do both now. 

We know from history how dangerous this moment is – fellow patriots, let us commit to rise to this moment, together, and do everything we can to defeat this extraordinary threat to everything that has made America great, and an inspiration for free people throughout the world for centuries.  

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