Three Things I'm Thinking About As We Head Into 2024
Be Sure To Watch My Year-End Briefing, "2023 Was A Really Good Year for Democrats. Let's Make 2024 Even Better"
There are three story lines I’m focused on as we close out the year:
The Strong Democratic Performance Since Dobbs - It’s The Most Important Electoral Data Out There Now
The Remarkably Robust American Economy Gives Biden A Strong Foundation For His Re-Election
Trump’s Historic Baggage Is Being Overly Discounted in Current Analysis About 2024
Joe Biden is a good President. The country is better off and we will have a strong case for re-election. The Democratic Party is strong and winning elections across the county. And they have Trump.
Let’s drill down a bit more:
The Strong Democratic Performance Since Dobbs - It’s The Most Important Electoral Data Out There Now - We clearly have not learned the central lesson from the red wave failure of 2022, and continue to center our understanding of American politics around polling. If we centered our understanding around actual election results, rather than noisy and increasingly unreliable polling, here is what we would see:
We Keep Winning Elections - Democrats won in 2018 and 2020, outperformed all expectations in 2022, and did so again in 2023. As it did in 2022, very noisy polling is having a hard time capturing what is really happening in American politics. This recent wave of polling feels a bit red wavy to me as even though Biden was down a bit we had what was in essence a blue wave election on November 7th, which was proceeded by strong Dem electoral performances across the US throughout 2023. In 2022 Republicans could point to a few places they did well, despite our overall success. There was no place they could point to in 2023, anywhere in the country, on any day, in any election, where they did well. To me our continued strong performance in elections across the US the most important electoral data out there, and is the central reason I am optimistic about 2024. When people vote, we just keep outperforming expectations, and they keep struggling.
A Reminder of How Strong Our Post-Dobbs Performance Has Been - In 2022, a “red wave” year, post-Dobbs Democrats outperformed 2020 in 5 US House special elections in AK, MN, NE NY by an average of 7 points; we got to 59% in the Kansas statewide abortion referendum; we outperformed 2018 and 2020 in the 2022 early vote all across the country; we gained a US Senate seat, won 4 state legislative chamber, gained 2 governorships net and won enough seats in the House to deny Republicans ideological control. We gained ground over 2020 in AZ, CO, GA, MI, MN, NH and PA, and got to 59% in CO, 57% in PA, 55% in MI, 54% in NH. In 2023 we flipped the WI Supreme Court Seat, getting to 56% in this critical battleground. We flipped Colorado Springs and Jacksonville, two of the largest Republican held cities in America. We got to 57% in Ohio twice, and took away its six week abortion ban. We flipped the state house in Virginia, and proved that even the 15 week abortion ban, backed by a popular governor and lots of money, cannot provide a safe haven for Republicans on abortion. We gained state legislative seats in New Jersey, Gov Beshear grew his margin in KY, and we won cities and school board seats all across the country. According to the Daily Kos special election tracker, Democrats have outperformed 2020, an election we won by 4.5 points, by an average of 6 points in 37 special state house elections across the US. For the party in power to keep doing this well, in race after race, in elections of all kinds, in every region of the country, over two election years, augers very well for the Democrats in 2024.
Democrats Are In A Remarkable Period of Popular Vote Dominance - A new theory out there is that even though Dems keep performing well in these special elections, off year elections, mid-term elections, school board elections, run-off elections, mayoral elections, ballot initiatives in red states, and every type of election one can imagine, somehow when the electorate gets bigger next year we will struggle. But what has actually happened as the electorate has gotten bigger in recent years? Dems are in a period of unprecedented dominance in the popular vote. We’ve won more votes in 7 of the past 8 general elections, something no other political party has done in American history. In the last 4 Presidential elections we’ve averaged 51% of the vote, the GOP 46% (51%-46%, +5). The last time we did that well was during FDR’s 4 elections all the way back in the 1930s and 1940s. For Trump to win the popular vote next year he will have to do something only a single Republican has done since 1992 and I just don’t believe this disgraced, despicable, insurrectionist is going to be the one to pull that off. We are a center-left country today, and the extremism of MAGA has made it even more so in recent years. The Democratic Party is very strong right now.
Three other points of note:
Recent large sample polls of Hispanics and young people show Biden holding or even improving up his 2020 performance with these groups
Democrats have gained 2-3 pts in 538’s Congressional Generic in recent months, and clearly lead if you strip out the partisan GOP polls in the average. A majority of polls taken in recent weeks show Dems with a lead
Navigator’s most recent House battleground tracker found significant GOP erosion in battleground House races this fall. The Republican Party brand is substantially less favorable than the Democratic brand in many many polls taken in recent months; and of course we keep overperforming in election after election across the country.
The Remarkably Robust American Economy Gives Biden A Strong Foundation For His Re-Election - This month it has become clear to all that the economy is strong, that things are better, and that we are getting to the other side of COVID and the other challenges that have been thrown at us in recent years. Let’s review the remarkable data from the last few weeks
GDP growth was 5.2% last quarter, and 3+% for the Biden Presidency. Trump averaged 1% GDP growth each year of his Presidency
The US has had the strongest COVID recovery of any country in the G7 (advanced economies)
The Dow hit an all time high this week, breaking 37,000 for the first time. 2023 is going to be a very good year for all US stock market indices - the country is much wealthier this year than last
Under Biden 14.1m jobs have been created, 7 times the number of jobs created under the last 3 GOP Presidents *combined*. The job market is the best here in the US in almost 60 years, and under Biden we’ve seen the lowest peacetime unemployment rate since WWII. The number of job openings per unemployed persons have hit record highs in recent years. Unending amounts of good news here.
Inflation was zero in October and grew just 0.1% in November. Groceries have only increased 1.7% in the last twelve months which is less than an average year. Rents have started to come down, gas and energy prices are way down. Because inflation is now running close to where the Fed wants it to be it, the Fed announced yesterday that it expects to cut interest rates next year - incredibly important news.
Under Biden America has seen the lowest uninsured rate in our history, and we continue to witness historically elevated wage gains, prime-age worker participation rates and new business formation, a clear sign of the vitality of the US economy today. The gains in Hispanic and Black new business formation has been particularly notable.
US oil and renewable production will each break records this year, making the US more energy independent then it has been in decades
The wealth of Americans climbed by over $50,000 per household, 37%, from 2020 to 2022, and doubled for American 18-34 years old. Biden has forgiven more than $130b in student load debt, and as of May, home ownership for Gen Z was higher than Millennials and Gen X at this point in their lives. Remember that the minimum wage has risen in many states and cities in recent years, creating a much higher floor for all workers, something particularly important for younger people entering the work force for the first time. Again, this is the best job market for young workers since the 1960s.
The annual deficit is trillions lower today than when Biden came into office. Despite high interest rates, household debt remains historically low. Household debt is an area Republicans have begun to focus on, and not surprisingly, are using bad and misleading data. Here’s a graph from the St. Louis Fed:
In this piece I argue that there is actually a lot of polling data, even prior to the last few few weeks of encouraging economic news, showing that Americans are content with their lives, their work and their income; and remind everyone that if there was broad discontent with Biden and the Democrats on the economy it has not shown up in elections across the US over the past 18 months.
It is likely that Joe Biden is going to start receiving a lift in his approval rating over all this important encouraging news, and the actual improvement people are experiencing in their own lives. This strong economy give us a very sturdy foundation to run on in 2024.
December Jobs Report Is Another Good One (lots of graphs and data)
Trump’s Historic Baggage And Ongoing Betrayal of The Country Is Being Overly Discounted in Current Analysis - The media is simply not spending enough time war-gaming out what Trump’s unprecedented, Olympian level of baggage will mean for him and the GOP next year. Recent polling suggests it could be a very big problem. Consider what is going to become an important part of our discourse next year:
A court has already ruled that Trump tried to rape a woman in a department store changing room, and he was ordered to pay a $5m fine as a penalty
A court has already found that he oversaw one of the largest financial frauds in American history. The trial in NY right now is to determine the penalty for this massive fraud, not whether it took place
That Trump is more responsible for ending Roe and stripping away the reproductive rights of women than any other person in America
That he executed what may be the most consequential security breach in American history through his theft of among the most restricted and secret documents which exist in our government
That he has taken more money from foreign governments than any politician in American history, and is without doubt, the single most corrupt politician our country has ever seen
That he has praised dictators, appeased and partnered with Putin, denigrated NATO and openly undermined American power and interests throughout the world
That he oversaw a party-wide effort, involving hundreds of party leaders and thousands of other allies, to overturn an American election and end American democracy for all time; and is now promising to finish the job in 2025
That he organized and directed an armed assault on the US Congress when all 435 Members were present
That he mismanaged COVID, badly, resulting in a severe recession and the unnecessary loss of hundreds of thousands of lives
That he is for more dead kids in schools, a warmer planet, the stripping of fundamental rights and freedoms common throughout the modern world, taking health care away from tens of millions, mass deportation……
We are just not going to lose to this guy, who has done those things, next year.
So, friends, on this Friday, I send along the reasons why I think, as we head into 2024 I would much rather be us than them.
2023 has been a very good year for us. Let’s commit to make 2024 even better - Simon