Sunday, September 1, 2019

The real divide in the Dem primary - Old vs young, status quo vs change

For weekend reading, I wanted to give you two excellent columns that go over where Democratic voters are as the 2020 presidential primary elections (slowly) approach.

The first comes from Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, who breaks down recent national polls of the Dem race, and finds some notable demographic differences.
In looking across the six polls, some clear patterns emerge (as does the Monmouth poll's outlier status). Biden is strongest among older, African-American, and moderate/conservative Democratic primary voters. Sanders is strongest among younger voters, while Warren is strongest among the most liberal voters and those with a college degree. That's not a new discovery, of course. What was striking, however, is how consistent these coalitions were among all the different polls — regardless of what the head-to-head poll numbers showed (well, except for Monmouth).

What also stuck out to me was the size of the lead candidates held in certain demographic groups. For example, while Sanders does best among younger voters, he doesn't rack up the large margins with these voters that Biden does among older voters. Scroll along the age breakouts in the chart and you see Biden with double-digit leads among voters over 45-years-old. Meanwhile, Sanders' lead among 18-34-year-olds is in the single digits. In the Quinnipiac poll, for example, Sanders takes 31 percent to Warren's 25 percent, and Biden pulls up with just 10 percent. But, among those over the age of 65, Biden has an almost 30 point lead over his closest competitor (Warren), while Sanders sits at just 4 percent.

Why does Biden's solid lead with older voters matter? Because older voters (those over the age of 45), make up 60 percent of the overall Democratic electorate. And, it's not just nationally. Older voters made up anywhere from 59 to 65 percent of the electorate in the first four voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Furthermore, Brownstein found, that "[s]ome private analysis conducted for Democrats eyeing 2020 has found the potential electorate tilting even more heavily toward older voters." In other words, the fact that Biden has — so far — consolidated older voters, while younger voters are divided between Warren and Sanders — gives Biden a big electoral advantage.

In polls where voters were asked to describe their ideology, Warren is way ahead of her closest competitor (Sanders) among those who say they are "very liberal." The Pew poll shows her getting 35 percent of that vote to Sanders' 19 percent. But, among those who say they are liberal or somewhat liberal, voters are pretty evenly divided among the top three candidates. And, among those who say they are moderate to conservative, Biden has double-digit leads in all but the Monmouth poll. Again, looking to Brownstein's analysis of the 2016 exit polls, almost 40 percent of the electorate called themselves moderate or conservative, while just 25 percent said they were very liberal. As long as Biden holds big leads among moderates/conservatives, and holds his own among the 'somewhat' liberal, he can afford to lose the 'very liberal' vote to Warren.

In other words, as long as neither Warren nor Sanders can consolidate their leads among demographic groups in the way Biden has done with his, or if they can't start to narrow Biden's margins, it will be hard to upend him.
There's a flip side to this - if younger people vote at the same rate as old people, or if the electorate in certain states isn't the same as the one being polled, you can see where the race changes, and fast.

What's funny is that many members of the generation that 50 years ago was rocking to these words, after the Dems blew it in 1968 by backing the status quo candidate when younger people were demanding a change.

One generation got old
One generation got soul
This generation got no destination to hold

Hey now it's time for you and me
Got a revolution
Got to revolution

There is also a question about what Trump's removal would mean, and what is the best way to proceed. Not just "impeachment vs elections" (an excuse frequently used by status quo Dems to avoid impeachment, as if both options cannot be utilized), but also is it just Trump that is the problem, or do we need fundamental change across our political and economic system?"

Leonard Pitts says it's the latter in an excellent column for the Miami Herald and reprinted in the Wisconsin State Journal today.
See, we left normal a long time ago, and it wasn’t because Democrats were mean. We left it because Republicans made a conscious and calculated decision to absent themselves from the responsibilities of citizenship and governance. They broke this country, one tea party rally, one birther lie, one government shutdown, one voter suppression law, one stolen Supreme Court seat at a time.

And the idea that Democrats should make it their priority to get us back to “normal” is worse than naive because it rewards and absolves the GOP for years of party-first obstructionism. “Normal” is what got us here. So rather than beg them to hold hands with the rest of us as we try to get back to where we were, let’s map a path to someplace new and challenge them to keep up.

Because there is opportunity here, a chance to build a new normal superior to the old. Maybe in the new normal, American ingenuity is unleashed in a man-to-the-moon campaign to save the world from climate disaster. Maybe in the new normal, higher education is accessible because student loans don’t loom like Kilimanjaro. Maybe in the new normal, you can go to the movies, the bar or the school without fear of being mowed down by some disaffected idiot because common-sense gun laws have taken hold. Maybe in the new normal, the cages stand open, the concentration camps empty, because we have embraced sensible immigration reform. Maybe in the new normal, healthcare is a human right.

And maybe all it takes is a president with the guts to lead the way — and a party with the courage of its convictions. So Biden should be less concerned about being friends with Republicans than about building a better country for them — for all of us. He wants to be a president who takes us back to where we were.

I’d prefer one who takes us forward to where we ought to be.
As someone who has lived through a state wrecked by Republican rule and the gerrymandering and voter suppression that went along with it, I completely agree.

These guys were screwing up Wisconsin long before Trump was prez.

This weekend's gun carnage in Texas and the inevitable lack of response due to Moscow Mitch McConnell's obstruction in the Senate is yet another example. Things are very messed up in America, and just replacing Trump with another old guy that returns us to the World of 2016 is a mere Band-Aid that doesn't go far enough. The GOP needs to be CRUSHED, at all levels, and we need a candidate that'll inspire people to do just that.

Status quo, half-assedness opens the door for the GOP to screw up the 2020s like they've screwed up the 2010s. That can't happen, and we need this losing game to be changed. Those who are comfortable with the status quo better get on board, or we need to shove them out of the way.


  1. Another dynamic apart from age and change is the Clintonite-neolib-Nerra Tandem nuts who maintain hostile and defamatory work against @BernieSanders and @TulsiGabbard.

    Last week, Tulsi was pushed out of the coming debate, and after the DNC sustained criticism, Nerra Tandem responded:

    Neera Tanden @neeratanden

    "I don’t think third party voters should tell Democrats who should make it on the Dem stage. Republicans shouldn’t either."
    So, corporatist Dems' message is: 'We're a private club; and fuck your public concerns about whom you wish to support for president.' That's why dems rig the game for Hillary Clinton, Biden and other lesser lights.

    After alienating large swaths of the country, Dem insiders deliver the message that progressives need not apply.

    As you suggest, younger voters could not care less about the Democratic Party, a truism that eludes democrats.

    1. Neera and other party hacks still don't seem to understand that getting people to vote for you is how you win elections. And that's not done by demanding that they know the secret party handshake and claiming that you know better than them (especially when you don't).

      I'm not a Tulsi fan (way too many Sarandon/Stein vibes) and think she didnt earn her way on the debate stage. But it is idiotic for Connected Coastals like Sneera to tell the majority of Dem voters that they should blindly follow the insiders that failed in 2004 and 2016, and got beat by Obama in the 2008 primary.

      Dems win with progressive platforms and candidates that inspire.

  2. You could frame it the rich vs poor. Rich older folks like some of the GOP/Neo liberal tax policies. Younger, poor with college debt, credit card debt are screwed.

    1. I tend to think of it as "comfortable vs uncomfortable." There are a lot of people who were satisfied with the Obama years, but a lot of other people thought there was a lot more that could/should/needed to be done.

      There also are people directly affected and furious about Trump/GOP cruelty, vs others who just think Trump is uncouth, but things are otherwise not so bad.