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Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Current Affairs ... Politics ...

I’m glad to see that Joe Biden won the election and will be the next President, come late January. I’m not so sure that there weren’t any significant voter irregularities or fraud in this election, given all of the mail-in ballots and new rules and procedures that were quickly implemented in the wake of the COVID pandemic. But I doubt if they will make a difference, despite all of Mr. Trump’s efforts in court (and I agree that Trump and the GOP should get its day in court). It’s a good sign that so far that Trump doesn’t appear to be stirring up white nationalist groups in preparation for a violent putch. And it doesn’t look as if GOP state legislators have the appetite for violating long tradition and sending a pro-Trump delegation to the Electoral College in states where Biden won, however narrowly. The GOP may not yet be done with Donald Trump (unfortunately), but for now Trump is a sinking ship; even if most of the rats on board are sitting tight for now, none of the shore-side rats are jumping on.

But still, the Democrats didn’t do very well overall on Election Day. There have been many articles about this over the past few weeks (here’s a good one), citing disappointing Senate race results, loss of seats in the House, GOP gains with minority voters, and unfavorable net results on the state legislature and state governor levels.

My one contribution to this is a quick and dirty summary of how the Electoral College map changed for both parties as a result of the 2016 and 2020 elections. Here is my summation:

OHIO (18 votes): Battleground to Solid GOP state

FLORIDA(29 votes): Battleground to Solid GOP state

GEORGIA(16): Solid GOP to Battleground state

MICHIGAN(16): Will keep as Solid DEM, call 2016 a one-time fluke specific to Hillary Clinton.

PENNSYLVANIA(20): Solid DEM to Battleground (Biden has an 82.5K margin in PA, about 1.5% points; but he had a unique advantage being a favored son. Also, mid and western PA is subject to the trends in Ohio favoring the GOP. I believe that future GOP candidates will remain competitive in PA)

WISCONSIN(10): Solid DEM to Battleground

ARIZONA(11): Solid GOP to Battleground

NORTH CAROLINA(15): Remains Mostly GOP, despite Obama victory in 2008; remember that Obama also won Indiana in 08, but that state has since solidified its GOP status.

DEMS OVERALL: Lose 2 battleground states (47 potential votes); Gain 2 battlegrounds (27 votes); Lose 2 SOLID states (30) – NET: Lose 2 SOLIDs (30 votes), lose 20 potential battleground votes

GOP OVERALL: Lose 2 SOLID states (27 votes); Gain 2 SOLIDs (47 votes); Gain 2 battleground states (30 potential votes) – NET: Gain 2 battlegrounds (30 votes), gain 20 SOLID votes.

OK, my methodology here is pretty much gut-feel; admittedly this analysis isn’t up to Nate Silver or Nate Cohn standards. But it still appears to me that the GOP came away with a somewhat more favorable Electoral College map for 2024, despite Biden’s victory.

As to President Biden — I am old enough to remember the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976. Carter seemed very popular at the time; he was a new day for the nation, a breath of fresh air after the murky Watergate intrigue of Richard Nixon. And yet, 4 years later the public turned around and lost its enthusiasm, handing Ronald Reagan a decisive victory. Biden is in a somewhat similar position; Trump lost just enough favor amidst his slender majority because of his inept handling of the COVID pandemic, and Biden seemed like a reasonable alternative. I can’t help but wonder if Carter-itis will set in once again amidst a fickle centrist electorate. Biden got the nod, but CLEARLY did not get a mandate from the electorate.

Finally, the expected trends in voting for 2020 were not as favorable to the Democrats as had been hoped. First off, Biden’s margins amidst non-white voters went down relative to Hillary Clinton in 2016; blacks went from 81% margin in 2016 to 75% margin (but their increased turnout in 2020 made up for this effect in Biden’s favor); the Latinx/Hispanic margin decreased from 38% to 35%; and interestingly, the Asian American margin decreased from 38% to 27%. Had Trump done as well with whites as he did in 2016, he would now be the President-elect. Luckily, he didn’t. However, as to whether a future, more progressively-oriented Democratic candidate can keep those white voters while reclaiming the expanding pro-Trump black, Latinx and Asian voter block is a very uncertain matter.

Before the election, many pundits and political analysts predicted that white women would trend towards Biden, especially non-college women. No dice on that one! Trump’s margin for white non-college women remained at 27% in both 2016 and 2020. White college-grad women went up from 7% to 9% margin for Biden, but it was white men, both college and non-college, who moved significantly towards Biden.

Trumps margin for college degree white men dropped from 14% in 2016 to 3% — a significant change! And for non-college white men, Trump’s margin with them was cut from 48% to 42%. Hmmm, cue Hillary Clinton and her argument that male misogyny was responsible for her loss (of course, she blamed a lot of other people and factors in addition to sexist men!).

Biden did quite well with younger voters, as expected. His 2020 margin for 18-29 voters went up from 19% in 2015 to 24%. However, his margin for the 30-44 group declined from 10% to 6%. Very old voters 65+ (which includes me!) still went for Trump, by 7% in 2016 and 5% in 2020; it was thought that these voters would have been more sensitive to Trump’s mishandling of the COVID pandemic. However, Biden did make inroads with the 45-64 group, lowering Trump’s margin from 8% in 2016 to 1%.

In sum, all of this says to me that Biden got in through a relatively special set of circumstances. Overall, the country still seems like fertile ground for future GOP candidates (hopefully not a 78 year old Trump!). The litany of “demographic destiny” for national Democrats is clearly not playing out, and the Biden Administration will need a lot of skill and luck in order to keep the Democrats in the game for 2024 and beyond.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 4:52 am      
 
 


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