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The incredibly smart politics of the Democrats' $3,600 child credit

In a stunningly ambitious and smart move, Democrats have proposed a child credit of $3,600 for children under the age of 6, and $3,000 for children up to the age of 17. The hope is to make it a permanent plan, structured as monthly payments, and would be means-tested to phase out starting at $75,000 for a single filer, and $150,000 for joint earners. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has proposed a similar plan, increasing chances of a bipartisan agreement on the credit. (His plan even does the smart thing and sends the cash to everyone, to make things simple, and recaptures payments to high earners at tax season.)

On the policy side, this child credit would be perhaps the single most economically impactful possible action, cutting child poverty in half.



But here's the thing, not only is this brilliant policy. It's even more brilliant politics as we head into the 2022 and 2024 election cycles.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40% of all families have children under the age of 18, or 33.4 million families. Two-thirds of American households earn less than $75,000, and just shy of 80% make less than $150,000, meaning that a solid majority of households with children will be impacted by this credit.

Parents are getting free money.

Now picture the 2022 and 2024 campaigns—Democrats (and non-asshole Republicans) can run on delivering that money to parents. And more importantly, they can run on Republicans trying to take that money away. Campaign messaging doesn't get simpler than this.

Conservatives have two main public arguments against the child credit. They claim that it would incentivize lower earners like single mothers from working more, as if staying home taking care of kids is inherently bad. They argue that it would blow up the deficit, which they can stuff it. Any conservative argument based on the size of the deficit is inherently bad faith until they themselves introduce legislation reversing their irresponsible tax cuts for billionaires, not to mention rein in Pentagon spending. If they want to be taken seriously as deficit hawks, they can act the part.

Both of these arguments lack substance, and really, they're not trying. Conservatives are merely resorting to their old worn framework arguments to pretend to object on substantive grounds: There's their old appeal to racism ("welfare mothers!"), and their claims of Democratic fiscal irresponsibility. It's all rote and half-assed, and that's because they don't want to talk about their real reason for opposing the child credit—a child credit that would dramatically help their core, poor, rural, white constituency.

In short, Republicans don't want voters to have to chose between them and $3,000-3,600 per year, per child. That's a choice that will cause even the most brain-addled QAnon conspiracy theorist to think twice when voting. And given a base that is largely exiting the electorate (they are old and dying off), Republicans can't afford to lose more ground among younger generations of white voters.

For traditionally low-performing core Democratic constituencies like Black and Latinos, it's no longer a question of "what have you done for me lately" that breeds voter non-performance and apathy. It's clear what's at stake: monthly checks for parents. It can also help blunt any lasting Republican gains among these voters.

If played right, the child tax credit could be the issue for 2022, just like health care dominated the 2018 campaign and led to a Democratic wave election. If Democrats want to buck the traditional losses suffered by the party in the White House in its first midterm, it'll need to be on the offensive. Pointing to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene won't get people excited to vote for Democrats. Pointing to free money will.

Of course, Democrats being Democrats, they don't have this quite right. They insist on means-testing it at the source, meaning high earners won't get a check. Problem is, the IRS doesn't know if you are a high earner this year. Maybe you were killing it until the pandemic crushed your business. Or you bucked the macro trends and had a gangbuster year amidst an economic calamity. The IRS only knows what happened in 2019.

And even after taxes are filed this year, and the IRS has a more updated picture, it won't know if you had a new baby or adopted a child until next year. Meanwhile, people's financial situation will continue to shift irrespective of the tax filing schedule. Meanwhile, the overworked IRS would have yet another administrative headache after years of being starved for funding. And you know what happens when people don't get their check, or it's the wrong size? People get angry, undercutting the policy side, yes, but also the political benefits.

Simplicity works in messaging. Send everyone a child credit. If someone makes too much money, claw it back during tax season. Set the income threshold high so that if someone gets an overpayment they don't really notice it. If they notice it, the threshold is too low. And then create a robust safe harbor for edge cases to avoid the sort of debt collection nightmares seen in other countries, as documented in this Twitter thread.

"There is something symbolically important about this being a universal child benefit," said Sam Hammond, a policy expert at the conservative Niskanen Center who wrote Romney's plan. "Overall, Neal's plan would be, unequivocally, a massive win against child poverty. But it could do more to clean up the administrative complexity of the current system by making the payment universal."

(To be clear, the Romney proposal eliminates other poverty programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit, so I'm not advocating for it, just the part that eliminates means testing up front.)

Still, even if the complicated and cumbersome means testing survives, this child credit is a stunning validation of Democratic governance, delivering real tangible benefits to the people who put their faith and money and blood, sweat, and tears into the last two election cycles. And they're setting themselves up nicely for the next two election cycles.

Because we might wish that voters voted on Q craziness, or climate change, or immigration reform, or social justice, or any of the other myriad issues that drive our activism here at Daily Kos. But in the end, Democrats will get far more traction by merely sending them a check in the mail.

Oh, and Donald Trump set the precedent: Put Joe Biden's name on them, really big.

Trump didn’t offer his deplorables hope of a better life — he promised to drag everyone down to their own sorry level

Whiny-ass sore-loser Donald Trump has a legit super power—both times he's run, he's turned out voters that haven't shown up for any other election, and didn't even show up in the polls. Remember, polling was perfectly fine in 2018, and Democrats swept races in 2017, 2018, and 2019. They even won governorships in blood-red Kentucky and Louisiana!

Yet both 2016 and 2020 saw the emergence of a massive wave of white voters that polling totally missed. In fact, despite suffering some defections among suburban Republicans, Trump still managed to get 10 million more votes in 2020 than he did in 2016! So I came up with a theory: the Hidden Deplorables.

The outline goes like this:

The hidden deplorables aren't Republican. They aren't even conservative. They're apolitical, otherwise ignoring politics, because their lives legitimately suck. They live in meth country, with dim job prospects (in fact, those two factors are highly correlated). Institutions have failed them—corporations abandoned them for cheaper labor overseas, government feels distant, and it's certainly not improving their lives. Cities feel like walled gardens—unattainable, unaffordable, yet that's where all the jobs are, the culture, the action. These deplorables have been left behind. So their attitude? "Fuck them all."

In other words, these are people who have lost everything and simply want to burn everything to the ground. Trump didn't offer hope for a better life, he promised to drag everyone down to their own sorry level. That's why it didn't even matter that Republicans failed to offer up a policy platform at their convention. No one needs to write "burn every norm, institution, and tradition to the ground" down in a platform. It was quite well understood.

While the theory will get tested in the January Senate runoffs in Georgia (Trump got 360,000 new votes in the state between 2016 and 2020, will they turn out again?), fact is it is just that—a theory. It's my best explanation as to why these Trump voters only show up when Trump is on the ballot, and why pollsters are unable to capture them. If their life sucks so much that they hate everything, why would they pick up a phone and talk to a pollster? Why would they join a polling panel? Why would they answer a polling text? And given that they've only shown up for Trump, it's nearly impossible to just model them in. (Some conservative pollsters tried to do it by simply adding a "shy Trump voter" number to their polling, it ended up being just a way to "unscrew" the polls. They were even more wrong in the final outcomes as everyone else. They actually thought Trump would win.)

Wednesday morning brought fresh new evidence of my theory, in a piece by conservative pollster Daniel Cox of the American Enterprise Institute.

Finally, research on the 2016 election by David Shor, a Democratic pollster, echoed what we found in our own pre-election 2020 survey: There was a large swing to Trump among white voters who had low levels of social trust — a group that researchers have found is also less likely to participate in telephone surveys.

In our pre-election survey on the strength of Americans' social networks, we found that nearly one in five Americans (17 percent) reported having no one they were close with, marking a 9 percentage point increase from 2013.1 What's more, we found that these socially disconnected voters were far more likely to view Trump positively and support his reelection than those with more robust personal networks. Biden was heavily favored by registered voters with larger social networks (53 percent to 37 percent), but it was Trump who had the edge among voters without any close social contacts (45 percent to 39 percent).

And this was especially true among white voters even after accounting for differences in income, education level, and racial attitudes. Sixty percent of white voters without anyone in their immediate social network favored Trump, compared to less than half (46 percent) of white voters with more robust social ties.

These are incels and Q followers and militia members and just assholes in general who repel people around them. In fact, as Republican as white people are, less than half of white people with strong social networks supported Trump! That's why urban whites are so heavily Democratic—they are surrounded by community. That's likely why suburban whites are turning blue as well, and particularly women, going to PTA meetings and their yoga or barre classes. It could also explain why suburban men, less likely to engage in such social endeavors, remain more Republican.

This theory really starts to explain a great deal, actually. Seniors are the age group most likely to be isolated, and they remain more heavily Republican. Rural areas are emptying out, with young residents moving to the big cities or other places with greater educational, recreational, and economic opportunities. Even the education gap that has emerged the last few cycles fits in—college is a community building experience.

There's no doubt this is an over-simplification of complex political trends, but there's the nut of something fascinating here. It certainly explains why the internet, and Facebook in particular, have been such a boon to conspiracy theorists and the socially marginalized, and provided rocket fuel to their growth. These people are social failures yet human, thus desperate for social interaction and community. That makes them ripe for recruitment by QAnon, white supremacists, and all manners of deplorable groups.

To be clear, this doesn't apply to all Republicans. A mega-church-going Republican who votes on abortion isn't isolated, but that individual also has no problem answering a pollster's questions. Same with a Wall Street "don't tax me" Republican. Those people are easy to find and count. But it certainly speaks to a real percentage of Republicans, and certainly explains the hidden deplorable quite well. Isolation isn't an absolute. You can't turn it on and off. It's a scale, and it's easy to see how the further on the isolation scale someone is, the less likely they are to properly interact with society and its institutions … that is, until a Trump emerges speaking to their pain and anger.

It certainly explains our own bewilderment that Trump got 10 million more votes than last time. Of course we don't see these people. No one sees these people. That's the point.

Funny thing is, these hidden deplorables don't even trust Trump himself. He literally begged them to turn out and vote for Republican candidates for governor in Louisiana and Kentucky last year, and they didn't listen. It's not Trump the institution (as president and head of the Republican Party) that motivates them. It's Trump the destroyer of norms, traditions, and liberals that motivates them to vote. So why would they vote for some Republican governor who might actually try to govern? They're attracted to Trump's specific brand of destructive chaos. That's my hope for the future—that we've seen the last of them for a while (until the next right-wing populist emerges, which seems quite inevitable at this point).

Of course, past performance is no guarantee of future results, and as already noted, we'll get to test this theory out in Georgia in January. But that just speaks to the hidden deplorables' future voting habits. But as an explanation of who they are, and why they exist, this analysis by Cox is pretty solid supporting evidence.

Trump over-performed the polls twice. This could be the reason why

Two facts from this November's elections have really gnawed at me:

1) Impeached sore loser Donald Trump got 10 million more votes in 2020 than he did in 2016. Given some losses among suburban college-educated white women and other never-Trumpers, that means that over 10 million new people took a look at Trump's last four years and thought, "Yeah, that's the guy that's getting me out to cast my first vote."

2) The polls once again undercounted Republican support, like in 2016. Yet in 2018 and 2019, the polls were fine. So what gives?

I have a theory, and it's the existence of a "hidden deplorable," and it's a wonder Joe Biden and the Democrats managed to salvage the White House given their existence.

From the start, let's dispense with the notion of a "shy Trump voter." These people aren't shy, yet they certainly exist. They're the assholes trying to run the Biden campaign bus off the road in Texas. They're the anti-government militias in Michigan. They're these people:


There's nothing "shy" about these people or their support for Trump, yet pollsters aren't catching them. They turn out for Trump, but they didn't turn out for Republicans in 2017, 2018, or 2019. Remember, last year Democrats picked up governorships in the blood-red states of Louisiana and Kentucky.


No amount of personal begging and pleading from Trump could get Republicans to the polls in those red states, nor did his extensive campaigning help his party during the 2018 Democratic wave year.

Yet with the national environment only worsened from the COVID-19 pandemic and other Trump self-inflicted wounds (like his failed trade war against China), Republicans stormed back this year, dealing Democrats painful down-ballot losses in the House, Senate, and state legislatures. Not only will those loses hamstring a Biden administration, even if we win both Senate runoffs in Georgia in January, but Republicans will have a free hand to redraw U.S. House and state legislative maps to their enduring, decades-long advantage.

All because Trump was at the top of the ballot.

So again, who are these people who only vote for Trump, otherwise ignore the Republican Party (despite Trump's pleading), and don't talk to pollsters?

The hidden deplorables aren't Republican. They aren't even conservative. They're apolitical, otherwise ignoring politics, because their lives legitimately suck. They live in meth country, with dim job prospects (in fact, those two factors are highly correlated). Institutions have failed them—corporations abandoned them for cheaper labor overseas, government seems and feels distant, and it's certainly not improving their lives. Cities feel like walled gardens—unattainable, unaffordable, yet that's where all the jobs are, the culture, the action. These deplorables have been left behind. So their attitude? "Fuck them all."

Trump shows up in 2016 and gives them hope for change, saying the quiet part out loud—that their lives suck not because of their own choices and that of those decamped corporations, but because all that sweet, sweet government money is going to "illegals" and "thugs" in those cities. He puts uppity Black and brown people and women in their place. He offers them hope that, if he can't improve their lives, that at least he'll hurt all those others.

"I voted for him, and he's the one who's doing this," she said of Mr. Trump. "I thought he was going to do good things. He's not hurting the people he needs to be hurting."

Their lives suck, but Trump was supposed to be bringing everyone else down to their level. That's why all that nonsense about "economic uncertainty" was such bullshit. None of these people ever thought Trump would bring back the factories, paying good middle-class wages. They can do the same math that the corporations have. But it would all be worth it if Trump would just hurt the people he needed to be hurt.

And then he did. He put brown kids in cages. He sent federal troops against the Black Lives Matter "mobs." He nominated judges hostile to a woman's right to have agency over her body.

And above else? He destroyed. He tore shit down. Norms, traditions, entire agencies.

So 2020 rolled around, and Trump no longer offered hope of economic revival in these economically devastated meth counties. Instead, he was the personification of their rage made real, in the Oval Office itself.

We saw this in Georgia, where Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rep. Doug Collins were locked in a battle to make it to the January runoff in the state's special election. Loeffler was originally chosen to try and appeal to the very white moderate college-educated suburban women that were abandoning the GOP and endangering the party's electoral chances. Collins is a right-wing ideologue, a staunch Trump ally, and the clear favorite of the Freedom Caucus wing of the GOP. So how did Loeffler fend him off? By moving to Collins' right, like this ad that claimed she was "More conservative than Attila the Hun" and had a "100 per cent Trump voting record."


Attila youtu.be

Loeffler literally said she was worse than a king best known for raping, pillaging, plundering, and extorting the Roman Empire into near insolvency. There are no Hun ruins you can visit today because they built no civilization, created no lasting art or culture.

So truly, Loeffler couldn't have picked a better representative of the modern Trumpian Republican Party—destructive, barbaric, and corrupt.

Now given their hatred for institutions like government and the media, is it any wonder that these hidden deplorables wouldn't answer pollsters' questions? Any attempt to survey them would likely be met with a middle finger and a "fuck you."

So the last four years have shown us that they only turn out when Donald Trump is in the battle. We'll have an early test of my Hidden Deplorables theory in January, when the two Senate seats in Georgia are decided. Given the essentially tied result in the presidential race (we won by a sliver), that special election will come down to the party that suffers the last amount of drop-off from their November turnout.

Trump got a remarkable 369,000 more votes in the Peach State this year compared to 2016, when he won the state by 5%. That should've been enough to seal the deal again. Yet Stacey Abrams, her volunteers, and an army of allied organizations did the near-impossible: Biden got 594,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. That is beyond mind-blowing!

If I'm right, Republican turnout among those new Trump voters could very well be catastrophic for the GOP. Now to be clear, no one should expect this. We assume they get every single one of their voters out. We need to out-hustle them, and they'll be working their assess off to turn those people out. So to be 100% clear, this isn't a prediction, nor is it even a hope.

If Republicans can get these hidden deplorables out, then the political picture the next few cycles will be rough—more closely fought elections, control of Congress and the White House balancing on a razor's edge. Making progress will be a tough slog.

On the other hand, if the hidden deplorables only come out when Trump is on the ballot, then that gives us some breathing room in the next few cycles ahead. That is, until a Trump ends up back on the presidential ballot in 2024.

Now this is an evolving theory, and it may be bolstered or undermined as additional data and information emerges (not to mention the Georgia runoff results will reveal a great deal). But regardless, Trump is likely the single greatest campaigner in modern presidential history. Hillary Clinton didn't lose because she was a terrible candidate, she lost because she faced a political prodigy, someone whose ability to tickle the darkest recesses of the white American's lizard brain is unparalleled, in a country that doesn't elect its presidents by popular vote, but by a system that overrepresents white rural states. Joe Biden cobbled together enough of a coalition to defeat Trump, but the damage was deep down-ballot precisely because so many of the House, Senate, and state legislative battles were fought in disproportionately white and rural states and districts—the places most excited by Trump's candidacy.

So take a man who has criminally mismanaged the country, enriching himself at the expense of its people and his donors, killed a quarter million Americans due to negligence, leading to the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, and didn't even bother to have a campaign platform because neither he nor his party cares about issues anymore … and he gets 10 million more votes than the last time? That number is a testament to his power as a vote-getter. Let's hope no other Republicans reverse engineers that formula anytime soon. And let's pray that these hidden deplorables, seeing their vote cast for a loser (and a loser who claims the vote was stolen!) decide to return to whatever dark crevices they emerged from.

This one Republican affidavit says everything you need to know about the sorry state of today's GOP

The Trump campaign released a 234-page stack of affidavits from poll watchers in Detroit alleging supposed intimidation. This Twitter thread highlights many of the absurd claims, such as complaining that independent poll watchers were too liberal, or this one complaining about "a very large man in 'Count the Vote' gear," or this one about people being mean to him. But one stood out to me, because it says so much about the sorry state of the Republican Party and the conservative movement today. Let's take a look.

A Republican poll watcher found it suspicious that Joe Biden would get military votes. As the affidavit states, "I did find it odd that, throughout the day/night, I saw a few dozen military ballots be counted. Although I cannot provide specific numbers or names, I can estimate that at least 80% of the military ballots I saw were straight ticket democrat or simply had Joe Biden's name filled in on them. I had always been told that military personnel tended to be more conservative, so this stuck out to me as the day went on."

Oh, this is so juicy.

1. No allegation of fraud.

Just like the entire stack of affidavits, this is not an allegation of fraud. It is an allegation of … nothing, really. He observed ballots be counted. The only crime committed here is that he didn't like the results.

2. The conservative media bubble makes you stupid.

This is the problem with being trapped in the right-wing media bubble—you aren't presented with reality. Fact is, rank-and-file service members are disproportionately Black and brown. They come from lower socio-economic backgrounds. And as would be expected, Black and Latinos are more liberal, while poor (heavily Southern) whites are more conservative. This isn't rocket science. When I served in the Army, the white boys had confederate flags flying in their barracks rooms, Black and Latinos did not. So it would make sense that if you're observing ballots, in Detroit, from local military personnel serving outside the state, that those ballots would reflect the rest of Detroit—likely heavily Black, and heavily Democratic.

Not to mention, we had a president who didn't just disrespect Sen. John McCain, a war hero, but also called service members who died in war "suckers" and "losers." It's likely why a Military Times poll of our troops found Joe Biden leading 41-37, with 50% of them holding an unfavorable view of Trump.

This is the problem with living in the right-wing media bubble is that it really does make you stupid.

3. Republicans going for volume over substance

It's one thing for some ignorant Republican poll watcher to puzzle over the results of military ballots. It's another for Republican lawyers to write it up and then release it to the public. It's clear that this isn't a serious effort to detail wrongdoing. They're just going to say "WE RELEASED 234 PAGES OF WRONGDOING!" in order to con people into thinking that Trump has been robbed. The Washington Post's David Weigel, talking to us on our weekly web show The Brief, detailed that strategy—get lots of media attention making allegations and filing frivolous lawsuits, fully expecting the media (including their right-wing outlets) to ignore stories of judges or other information and analysis dismissing those claims.

So that one affidavit showed us three critical things in this post-election period: That Republicans remain safely ensconced in their media bubble, misinforming themselves, that they are feeding that media bubble with bullshit claims and accusations, fully expecting any debunking to be ignored, and despite all that, they still can't find any fraud to point to, anything that might flip the tens of thousands of votes they would need to change the election results.

And to what end? To THIS end:

As long as the MAGA deplorables think the election can be flipped, Donald Trump can keep his grift alive, and Republicans have zero interest in putting the interests of democracy ahead of Trump's ego and bank account. And maybe, if they play their cards right, they can slip a coup in there.

Trump is in trouble in these red states: final poll

This is it, last round of 2020 public state polling. Toplines: In Iowa, Joe Biden +1 and Theresa Greenfield (D) +3, in Wisconsin, Biden +4, and in Ohio, Trump +1. The details below.

IOWA, 10/29-11/1, MoE 3.7%

PRESIDENT11/110/67/6
DONALD TRUMP (R-INC)484746
JOE BIDEN (D)494846

Remarkable consistency, and truly anyone's game. And wholly at odds with Saturday's Seltzer poll which had dramatic movement toward Donald Trump and Senate Republican incumbent Joni Ernst. You know the one, the poll that had everyone hyperventilating.


Either Seltzer is catching a massive shift in vote preference that literally no one else has caught, or … they're wrong. I like our numbers better. Regular readers know that in today's polarized political environment, public opinion simply doesn't shift.
SENATE11/110/67/6
JONI ERNST (R-INC)474645
THERESA GREENFIELD (D)504948

Looks like undecideds consistently broke even for each candidate each time we polled. While I like Greenfield's chances, this is clearly a tight contest.

WISCONSIN, 10/29-11/1, MoE 3.6%

PRESIDENT11/110/119/15
DONALD TRUMP (R-INC)474544
JOE BIDEN (D)515351

We're showing a tighter race than almost everyone else. The Economist's aggregate is +8 Biden, and here we are at half that. Still, Biden is over 50%, rendering him immune if the undecideds decide to stick with Trump.

OHIO, 10/29-11/1, MoE 3%

PRESIDENT11/110/119/15
DONALD TRUMP (R-INC)495048
JOE BIDEN (D)484745

Civiqs saw three-point Trump leads in September and October, and that's down to one point, with Trump right at that 50% mark. Ohio is within Biden's grasp, but Trump still has the edge.

Remember, Trump won Ohio by eight and Iowa by 9.4. Neither of those states should be competitive. That's why no one is pretending that Trump has a viable path to victory, not even his campaign, now fixated on trying to steal the election.

Biden is winning nationally — but the states actually decide. Here's what they're telling us

We've been checking into the state polling every Thursday for several months, and it's hard to believe, but we're out of Thursdays! I'll do one more of these on Monday or Tuesday, but we're pretty much at the end. Nothing much will change the dynamics of the race anymore. It'll all come down to 1) can we get our core vote to vote, and 2) where do the dwindling set of undecideds land. The answer to those two questions will determine whether we have an Electoral College landslide victory with an early evening call, or weeks and months of chaos, legal uncertainty, and violence. The Proud Boys are, after all, standing by.

We always start with a look at the national poll trends, using The Economist's polling aggregate.

(The Economist)

As you can see merely eyeballing the chart above, nothing much has happened since late August. The top-line numbers—54.2-45.8 are pretty much the same numbers we had in early June. You want to see something fun? Let's compare the chart above to Civiqs' chart of Trump's approval ratings over the last year:

It's the same freakin' trend. I've written before that all you have to do is add two-points to Trump's approval rating to get his share of the Biden-Trump vote in Civiqs polling. (Here's is our 50-state map of Trump approval ratings, if you want to play the game.) There is direct correlation.

Back to the aggregate, Joe Biden has an 8.4-point lead in the national polling. Last week it was 8.6 points, so for all intents and purposes, nothing has moved. And why would it? We are so polarized at this point, that it's hard to imagine anything having a measurable impact anymore. We're approaching a quarter million dead from the coronavirus pandemic, and Trump's numbers have barely budged. But in the same token, what could Trump say to start winning back some of that support? That's why this Hunter Biden laptop nonsense is so patently ridiculous. Even if it was true, and it's not, no one gives a shit.

One last note before we get to the polls, please don't say stupid shit like "ignore the polls!" and "act like we're 10 points down!" We are the reality-based community. We don't ignore data, and we certainly don't create an alternate reality. It amazes me how conservatives can't handle bad news, and liberals can't handle good news. The reason we have opportunities to win tough races like Senate seats in Texas, Kansas, Alaska, Iowa, and Georgia is because Biden is doing this well. That's not a bad thing or a reason to be scared. It's a reason to get excited, because only a few points separate an okay night from a good night from the best night ever. There is no excuse for complacency because there are races we are legitimately behind in, that we can only win if we out-hustle Republicans on the ground.

As usual, we start with our baseline map.

As I say every week, I think Alaska is a battleground, but the polling isn't validating my gut instinct, so it remains red on this map.
STATEELECTORAL
VOTES

ECONOMIST
POLL AGGREGATE

WEEKLY
CHANGE

TOTAL
BASELINE--232-125
MICHIGAN16Biden +8.0

+1.0

248-125
WISCONSIN10Biden +8.0+1.4258-125
NEBRASKA-011Biden +6.5-259-125
PENNSYLVANIA20Biden +6.2+0.4279-125
FLORIDA29Biden +3.2-0.2308-125
ARIZONA11Biden +3.0-0.2319-125
NORTH CAROLINA15Biden +2.4-334-125
MAINE-021Biden +3.0+1.0335-125
GEORGIA16Biden +0.6+0.6351-125
IOWA6Biden +0.2+2.0357-125
OHIO18Trump +1.4-0.2357-143
TEXAS38Trump +2.2-0.2357-181

All in all, a great week for Biden in the key battlegrounds. Iowa flipped (barely) from a narrow Trump win to the narrowest Biden one. More importantly, the Big Three—Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin all trended up for him. If Biden wins these three, it's over. He's got it. So as things currently stand, Trump would have to overcome a six-point deficit in Pennsylvania merely to stay in the game.

After Pennsylvania, things get closer, and this is where we really need to work hard to nail these states down. Political Campaigning 101 says that a good ground game can be worth three points in the final results. Look at all these states—everything from Florida on down is within that three-point spread.

The work we put in to get the final vote out can be the difference between a 279-259 victory, with Trump's lawyers trying to sow chaos and discord in Pennsylvania, trying to throw out legitimately cast votes hoping their illegitimate Supreme Court pulls another Bush v. Gore, or a 413-125 historic walloping that puts an early end to the night and squashes any conservative efforts to steal the election.

Not to mention, there are seven Senate pickups possible in those presidential battlegrounds. Given that we need to pick up net-three seats, the more we maximize our performance in those states, the better our chances to have a real and transformative Senate majority.

Finally, I really want to highlight the GOP's dilemma heading into future cycles.

The top six 2016 red states, by electoral votes, are all battlegrounds: Texas (38), Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Georgia (16), and North Carolina (15). Their largest safe red state is Indiana (11).

Of those, it's safe to say that Ohio is trending red, and maybe Pennsylvania. But Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina are clearly trending blue, and Florida is Florida. I'm just going to assume it'll remain 50-50 forever, but really, demographically, it's a blue state.

The modern GOP can't function as a national party if Ohio and Pennsylvania are their anchors, particularly since they're both likely losing seats during reapportionment. Who will gain? Texas, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina … you get the point.

There is something real and special happening this year. We are all part of history. And the hard work of every single one of us, of you, has gotten us to this point, on the precipice of transformative change. So don't let up now, so close to the finish line. Let's finish strong.

Leave nothing on the road.

The real 2020 drama is in the Senate. Here's how close it is to flipping

Conservatives can't handle bad news, so they invent poll numbers to show themselves winning. Liberals are terrified of good news, so they obnoxiously say things like "pretend we're down by 20!"

Then there's reality—we're looking good in the presidential race, so the real drama is in the Senate. And we're just a few points from having a good night, and the best night possible.

Using FiveThirtyEight.com's Senate forecasts, we can see just how close that dividing line between "good" and "the best ever" really is.

STATE &

INCUMBENT PARTY

538

FORECAST

SENATE BALANCE

IF DEMS WIN

MARGIN IF

DEMS WIN

BASELINE53-47R+6
ALABAMA (D)R+7.254-46R+8
COLORADO (R)D+7.753-47R+6
MICHIGAN (D)D+6.753-47R+6
ARIZONA (R)D+5.652-48R+4
MAINE (R)D+2.451-49R+2
NORTH CAROLINA (R)D+2.3

50-50

TIED
IOWA (R) D+0.849-51D+2
GEORGIA SPECIAL (R)D+?(*)48-52D+4
GEORGIA (R)R+247-53D+6
MONTANA (R)R+3.446-54D+8
KANSAS (R)R+4.945-55D+10
SOUTH CAROLINA (R)R+5.744-56D+12
ALASKA (R)R+6.4

43-57

D+14
TEXAS (R)R+8.342-58D+16
MISSISSIPPI (R)R+10.541-59D+18

If these forecasts held, Democrats would emerge with a four-seat 52-48 majority. While better than being in the minority, that's a small enough minority that West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema could hold most of the Democratic agenda hostage. Furthermore, there are too many Democratic "institutionalists" in the Senate, like Vermont's Patrick Leahy and Delaware's Chris Coons, that even simple things like eliminating the filibuster could prove problematic.

So is a four-seat majority enough to pass the kind of aggressive reforms we need to safeguard our democracy? Doubtful.

Furthermore, we're not even guaranteed that much! North Carolina, Maine, and Georgia's special election seat are all within a few points in the 538 forecast. It's a real dogfight just to get to a small majority. A tied 50-50 Senate is still well within the realm of possibility.

But here's the flip side: What if the polls are understating Biden and Democratic support given how many new people are flooding into the system—young voters and previously inactive voters? What if the undecideds break as aggressively toward the Democrats this year as they did toward Trump and the GOP in 2016? What if we maximize our turnout because everyone is working so hard at get out the vote (GOTV), and our base is hyper-mobilized?

I actually think both Georgia Senate seats are looking good for us (even if we might need to wait until January to clinch the seats in runoff elections). If we win everything else the 538 model says we're leading, that puts us at 53-47. Looking better, right?

Then we have the races in Montana, Kansas, and South Carolina within five points or so. Those are all tough races that we're supposed to lose, but what if we work so hard that we pull them off? What if rural counties are so coronavirus-stricken that their Election Day turnout suffers? What if Donald Trump keeps saying stupid shit on the campaign trail and demobilizes even a fraction of his support? All we need is a small suppression of his vote alongside our own hyper-mobilized one to potentially swing these tough seats our way.

Then there's Alaska, which is near-impossible to poll, but there are many signs that Biden could carry it, or at least come shockingly close to doing so. That could pull our candidate there over the line. And given what we're seeing in Texas turnout, the polls may simply be incapable of processing the kind of seismic shift underway.

To be clear, I'm not saying we're going to win those seats, but if we can pull off just two upsets among that batch, we're suddenly looking at a 55-45 Senate, and actual freedom to do what we need to do: eliminate the filibuster, expand the courts, statehood for Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, and a national voting rights bill that protects everyone's votes.

That's how close things are between a tied Senate, or even Republicans maintaining their majority, and a 10-seat majority that could become 14 seats nearly overnight with Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico statehoods.

The money has flowed to these candidates. They won't lose from lack of resources. So it's up to us to do whatever GOTV we can to finish out the race. Just six more days to fix our American democracy.

1. Contact anyone you know in any of these battleground states and urge them to vote, and to make sure three of their friends/family/coworkers/acquaintances vote along with them. There are tons of battlegrounds. Here're just the presidential and Senate battlegrounds: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. That's 19 states.

2. There are dozens of battleground House districts—pretty much anyone who lives in the suburbs qualifies. So if you have any suburban contacts, reach out to them as well.

3. Reach out to everyone else and urge them to vote. Period. We build power by exercising power. There are few places in the country where a vote is truly wasted. There's something on the ballot worth fighting for. And if not, you're building toward the next election.

4. Go to DailyKos.com/GOTV to find something you can do in these last few days. There are myriad options on that page, so find something that suits your skills and personality and GOTV like the fate of our country depends on it.

We are winning, yes, but we need to win by even more. So if you're one of those people who need to be losing by 10 to be motivated, well, there are states on that list above that are legitimately 10 points down. Motivation engaged! Now let's win this thing!

Why 1,000,000 new voters in Georgia are a really big deal: analysis

Georgia was close in 2016, with Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton just 50-45, despite zero attention or focus on the state. It was a major signal to the political world that Georgia had arrived on the battleground stage. And while it took a while for the political punditry and observers to give Georgia the top billing it deserves (Daily Kos was relatively lonely at the start of the cycle, calling the state a battleground), there is no doubt in anyone's mind that Georgia is perhaps the most closely divided state in the country.

From an Electoral College standpoint, Democrat Joe Biden will win the presidency long before Georgia's 16 electoral votes are added to someone's tally. But Georgia is critically important for several reasons:

  • Georgia is the fourth largest (by population) red state in the country. Interestingly, every single one of them is competitive: Texas (38), Florida (29), Ohio (18), Georgia (16), and North Carolina (15). It is difficult for Republicans to win the White House if they don't have a solid base to depend on, the way Democrats have California (55), New York (29), and Illinois (20) to anchor their map.
  • The Senate is easily biased toward white rural Republican states. Any state that can be pulled from the "safe Republican" column to "competitive" status helps go a little way toward alleviating the rank inequities of that chamber. And it's incredibly fortuitous that Georgia has two Senate seats in play this year.
  • The people of Georgia deserve better, plain and simple.

So a competitive Georgia isn't exactly the biggest surprise of the cycle, but going from minus-5 to tied didn't happen by accident. Driving that transformation: there are now 7.6 million registered voters in the state, a staggering 1 million more than in 2016—a nearly 14% increase. Remember—Clinton lost by 5%. That was a a 211,141 difference.

In 2018, Democrat Stacey Abrams lost the governor's race by a little less than 55,000 votes. And here we are, 1 million newly registered voters later since 2016, with the polls neck and neck. And the numbers on those registered voters are simply brutal.

  • The number of voters under the age of 35 years old is up 22%—making up half of the new voters. According to a late-September Georgia poll by Civiqs, Biden is winning 18-34-year-old voters by a 53-40 margin. Of course, these are the lowest performing voters, but more on that in a bit.
  • Of that million new voters, 200,000 were registered in the last three months alone. That's …. staggeringly mind-blowing!
  • Of those who gave their race, 53% of new voters are white, 30% are Black, and 4% are Latino. According to exit polls, 60% of Georgia voters were white in 2016. The state's electorate is getting browner, which is terrible news for the GOP.

According to the latest up-to-date numbers from the U.S. Elections Project, 2,258,750 Georgians have already voted since early voting began on October 10, or 32% of the 2016 total. Early voting will continue until Friday, October 30, so we still have another eight days. Not only does this bank Democratic votes ahead of time, lessening the load on the Democratic GOTV machine, but it will also guarantee shorter lines on Election Day proper. The state expects more than 5 million to vote, dramatically higher than 2016's 4.1 million.

This one will be close, no doubt about it. The presidential and both Senate races (and several competitive House races down ballot) will all be real dogfights. But Georgia's demographic trends are moving decisively in our direction. Georgia may very well follow the most recent example of Colorado—once a conservative stronghold, then a battleground, and now a solid, safe blue state.

But first things first, 2020. GOTV and leave nothing on the road.

Is it time to freak out? Here's what the polls say this week about the state of the presidential race

Welcome to my weekly roundup of state presidential polls, a feature of whose future is coming to an end at seemingly terrifyingly speed. Remember back when people would answer every poll with "it's way too early to look at polls!" Then there was that primary thing were everyone argued for a long time. And now? Here we are. At election's eve. Finally able to deliver a message to Donald Trump the only way he'll (maybe) listen: with a vote.

We always start with a look at the national poll trends, using The Economist's polling aggregate.

(The Economist)

Biden's current 54.3%-45.7% lead, or +8.6 points, is actually up a smidgeon from last week's 54.2% to 45.8%, or 8.4 points. Really, it's all float. The reality, and you can see it in the chart above, is that the race hasn't fundamentally budged in a while, not since September, really.

It feels like we're on the precipice of something amazing. It's no accident that Texas is competitive. The national numbers have swung nearly nine points toward the Democrats. How much did Trump win Texas by in 2016? Nine points. This stuff isn't rocket science.

We're already headed toward a real good night. But if we could shift those numbers 1-2 more points? That good night could become epic. Those 1-2 points could be the difference between a 50-50 Senate, and a 55-45 Democratic majority with victories in states like Alaska, Kansas, South Carolina, and Texas. We are so close to blowing this wide open. But also so close to seeing the pendulum swing back toward the GOP by 1-2 points, and taking those tough red-state Senate seats off the map.

That's why I don't understand the "act like we're 20 points down!" crowd. If that's what motivates you, go to Idaho, where Joe Biden is likely down by that amount, and see how motivating that actually is. You'll discover what every sports fan knows: it's more motivating to be in the lead than losing.

And here's the thing: Biden's 9-point national lead is the reason that Texas is competitive. It's the reason Alaska is competitive. It's the reason so many traditionally red states and districts are competitive. It's the reason we might pick up state legislatures in places like (again) Texas, as well as heavy Republican gerrymanders in places like Arizona and Michigan.

The fact that Biden is running so strong nationally means that we have a wealth of newly competitive races open up down ballot. Isn't that motivating? So please don't resort to loser "20 points down" bullshit. My suspicion is that people think they need to say that to motivate other people, and it's counterproductive. Freaking Ohio and Iowa, which Trump won by around 10 points in 2016, are competitive. Winning has its advantages. And winning bigger has even more advantages—the majorities we need for critical systemic change.

Okay, let me step off my soapbox, and let's look at the state polls. As usual, we start with our baseline map.

I still think Alaska is a battleground, and if it turns Blue on November 3, you'll remember that I've harped on it all cycle. The polling aggregate says it's a 6.6-point Trump lead, so it remains firmly red on this map. But, Alaska is the toughest state to poll, so don't be surprised if it flips, that's all I'm saying.

STATEELECTORAL
VOTES

ECONOMIST
POLL AGGREGATE

WEEKLY
CHANGE

TOTAL
BASELINE--232-125
MICHIGAN16Biden +7.0-248-125
WISCONSIN10Biden +6.6-0.4258-125
NEBRASKA-011Biden +6.5-259-125
PENNSYLVANIA20Biden +5.8-0.4279-125
FLORIDA29Biden +3.4-0.2308-125
ARIZONA11Biden +3.2+0.4319-125
NORTH CAROLINA15Biden +2.4+0.4334-125
MAINE-021Biden +2.0-335-125
GEORGIA16Biden +0.0+0.2351-125
IOWA6Trump +1.8-1.0351-131
OHIO18Trump +1.6-0.8351-149
TEXAS38Trump +2-351-187

Wow, pretty much nothing changed, and that's great news for us since, you know, time is running out. Biden still has a five-point-lead-or-larger for all the states he needs to get to 270 electoral votes, and ultimate victory. He also leads in enough states that will finish their counting on election night (Florida and North Carolina), to avoid having Trump and the GOP sow chaos with an avalanche of lawsuits.

And Biden is within 2 points of blowing past 400 electoral votes, which would deliver pretty much the most humiliating defeat possible to Trump. And really, we want him humiliated.

According to conventional political wisdom, a good GOTV ground game is worth around 3 points (another reason why "fight like we're 20 down" is so stupid). So every one of those states above is gettable, especially if the Trump GOTV operation—which has put all of its marbles on Election Day turnout—fizzles. And does anyone trust the Trump Republican Party to do anything right?

Of course, no one is counting on former campaign manager Brad Parscale to have pilfered all of the money. We know he ran off with tens of millions of Trump campaign cash. Maybe some of it was spent on building a GOTV machine. Which is why we have to work as hard as we have already been working.

We truly are on the cusp of something transformative. Leave nothing on the road.

Trump hopes Nevada will bail him out. Here's what the numbers say

Once upon a time, back in April 2019, the Trump campaign was all full of endless bluster.

"Obviously, we have to go back and win Michigan again, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin," [former Trump campaign manager and existing wife-beater Brad] Parscale said, referring to three states that Trump won by a combined 78,000 votes. "We plan on also being in Minnesota very soon. I think New Mexico is in play in 2020.
"I think New Hampshire, I think we continue to grow the map. I think Nevada, you know even Colorado. And so those are, those are states we did not win in, in 2016 that I think are open for 2020."

Fast forward to today, when the Trump campaign has all-but abandoned Michigan and Wisconsin, and fully abandoned Colorado, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Civiqs polled Colorado a few weeks ago and found Joe Biden leading 54-42. It's hilarious that anyone in the Trump camp ever thought it night be competitive. Public polling in New Hampshire is hovering around the same low-double digit margins. But what about Nevada?

The Trump campaign has made ad reservations in Nevada heading into the final stretch, yet the Economist polling composite shows Biden leading there by a seemingly a large margin—53.1 to 46.9%, or 6.2%. Hillary Clinton won the state by just 2.5 points in 2016, so it would seem purplish. But Civiqs latest poll of the race shows that the state, like much of the country, has moved sharply leftward.

Civiqs polled Nevada October 17-20, interviewing 712 likely voters, with a MoE of 5.3%.

PRESIDENT10/2020
DONALD TRUMP (R-INC)43
JOE BIDEN (D)52

Biden is comfortably over 50%, Trump trails way back. A double digit Biden victory here wouldn't surprise me. A Fox News poll in late September had Biden up by an even bigger margin, 52-41. A NY Time/Siena poll in early October had Biden winning 48-42.

The Trump campaign's continued spending here is curious, as it's not part of a path that current Trump campaign manager Bridgegate Bill Stepien sees as a likely one: "pathway three — the one Stepien views as least likely of the options — does not include Arizona but involves Trump winning North Carolina, Michigan and Nevada." Don't be surprised if you see the campaign quietly cancel its ad reservations there, as it's broke.

Further down the ballot, the Constitutional amendment to eliminate the state's official definition of marriage as between a man and a woman is headed toward easy passage.

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