Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Prepare for lots of campaign motion — and little actual movement

By 37ci3 Apr3,2024



Not a week goes by without three to five polls airing over the next six months, both nationally and in battleground states. Again, as much as I’m biased against the numbers, I’ll do my best to take every conclusion with a grain of salt, even though I have a lot of data to announce. And if I notice anything in these polls, it will be the trends that continue for more than just two polls.

Here’s why: Ultimately, this election will be decided by “binary haters” — those who feel sorry for both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump — and disaffected partisans. If history is any guide — well, if our entire lives are any guide — we likely won’t see any significant movement in the polls until the last minute.

Why do I believe this? This is basic human nature. When you don’t like doing something you have to do, you wait until the last possible minute to do it.

We all remember that long paper in high school or college, when we hated the combination of some assignment or class or book we had to read but knew we had to focus on it at some point if we wanted to pass the class. Typically, these documents were not prepared much in advance.

In this election, there is no compelling reason for the double haters to decide early. And finding out which way these voters lean will be one of the most difficult election challenges of 2024. Perhaps geography, age or marital status will be important clues to their final voting choices. But make no mistake, this group of voters will sit in the undecided column until at least October.

Double haters have a lot of incentive to wait if they are truly undecided. Maybe they want to see how Trump’s trials turn out. Maybe they want to see how Biden stands on the trail. Perhaps they are waiting to see who Trump will choose as his running mate.

These voters, who may actually vacillate between the two candidates, are one of two types of swing voters that will attract the attention of the two campaigns (and the political media). The other kind are reluctant partisans.

These are people who always vote the same way – when you vote.

What makes them go to the polls this year? Will it be love and loyalty to a particular candidate? I think that those voters are already known to us. The voters I’m talking about are the ones who can’t stand the other side, but don’t like their party’s flag bearer.

They’re a bit different than the bipartisan haters, with long histories of voting for one side but just plain disenchantment with their side’s man in 2024. These are young progressives on the left or young, socially moderate fiscal conservatives on the right. Some of these voters are older centrists who think they are socially liberal but feel rejected by the left for not being progressive enough. There are also skeptical anti-establishmentists who have given up on the Democrats, voted for Trump once or twice, wanting to “stick him to the elite” but can’t really defend his character and don’t see him as answering our questions. problems.

What motivates these voters may be external events, such as a dramatic change in the economic environment or an event that creates a perception that public safety is at risk.

I believe that immigration only becomes a voting issue when it is perceived as a threat to public safety. If you spend a lot of time online, especially in right-wing circles, you probably think immigration has already become a public safety issue, but despite the efforts of many trying to push this threat into the mainstream, that’s not yet the case.

And then there’s abortion, which, depending on the state, can be a big motivator for under-40 voters.

All of this is a warning against overreacting to any survey trends you think may be developing between now and October. The voters who matter most are the voters who are most fickle about the current political situation. The more variable you are as a voter, the more variation there is in both your likelihood of voting and in which way the vote goes.

Now that I’ve avoided my “pay less attention to the horse race polls until October” warning, I want to posit a scenario that the political world underestimates: the possibility of a more decisive presidential outcome than ours. seen in years.

In politics, we have a tendency to overestimate the results of the latest election and use them as a guide to what will happen next.

The first 20 years of this century were the most competitive years between the two parties in more than a century. Did you know that only five presidential elections in the entire 20th century were decided by less than 5 percent of the popular vote? This young century has already seen all but one presidential election (five out of six – and yes, I’m counting 2000 as this century) decided by less than 5 points, which means we’re already on the cusp of the 20th century for close elections. we have adapted to the indicators.

Not since Reconstruction, when the 1868-1892 elections were decided by narrow margins, have we had such a polarized race between the two parties.

And perhaps, culturally, we haven’t been this divided as a country since Reconstruction. What do they say about history? He may not repeat, but he rhymes.

Here’s the thing: Before the Trump era, it was pretty common for all close elections in a year (especially at the state level) to go in one direction because swing voters tended to move in roughly the same direction, whether they voted or not. In North Carolina or North Dakota. We’ve seen a party win five or more Senate seats in a given cycle even though it won all close races by 3 points or less (see 2006 or 2014).

While one statistician might argue that we haven’t had enough presidential elections in the country overall to draw broader trend lines, it’s worth noting that we often choose a decidedly (temporarily) direction.

So the two more possible outcomes than 2016 or 2020 are Trump winning the presidency (and this time the popular vote) while also taking the House and Senate with him, giving him the governing trifecta. Or, alternatively, Biden wins and he gets the governing trifecta, because every Democrat in a red state (see Ohio and Montana) falls short, possibly thanks to abortion. In this scenario, a Biden victory would also bring the House to Democrats, and North Carolina would likely turn blue, giving Biden a more decisive Electoral College victory.

The Florida factor

There is a lot of talk right now about what the abortion rights referendum will mean for Florida’s political competitiveness. I believe the abortion rights initiative will pass because of the second ruling by the Florida Supreme Court. By greenlighting new six-week abortion ban into law (starting next month) has given voters in Florida a stark choice — they either have one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country or one of the least restrictive. There is no in between.

Perhaps if the current Florida law (15 week abortion limit) holds for the next 28 days, the abortion proposal will struggle to get the 60% support it needs. While the alternative is a six-week ban, I can’t imagine this initiative not passing in a presidential turnout year, even with the 60% threshold.

Now, just because Florida voters overwhelmingly oppose a six-week ban doesn’t mean Democrats will automatically benefit. The party will certainly gain due to increased youth turnout, but is it enough to start winning seats in the US Senate or House of Representatives? This is where I’m a little more skeptical.

There is still a lot to do in the domestic politics of abortion on the right. It will be interesting to see how Trump fares on the ballot in his home state. He says he opposes the measure, but wishes it were more lenient, and promises to work on it if elected president. This is probably not a good policy for him, as we have found that most of the country is not comfortable with 15 weeks if 24 weeks is an option.

I know my friends on the right believe 15 weeks is an acceptable number, but only if it’s a choice between 15 weeks and six weeks. I think many of them mistake “tolerance” for “advantage” at 15 weeks. It’s not an “advantage”, but it’s tolerable if the alternative is more limited access.

Here’s another thing to think about: If Florida passes this abortion rights initiative, it will eliminate Florida Democrats’ strongest challenge against Florida Republicans in 2026. If state voters don’t see the abortion position as a threat, polls? If abortion isn’t front and center for the 2026 gubernatorial race, it certainly could allow Republicans to recover without electoral pain.



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By 37ci3

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