Discover more from Hopium Chronicles By Simon Rosenberg
There Are Elections On Tuesday, and We Have A Lot of Work To Do
Some Early Thoughts on The NYT Polls
Yes, some not great polls from the New York Times today. There will be time to go through the data and point out the obvious problems (youth, Hispanic, black results just too Republican throughout, results not duplicated in other recent polls, high margin of error, how can you be up 2 in WI and down 5 in MI?) but these polls, like other recent polls, show that we are not where we want to be in the 2024 election, and have a lot of work ahead of us.
So some thoughts on where we are now a year out, with a few reminders:
Polls cannot tell you anything about where things will be next year, they can only tell you where things stand today
Polls did not do a very good job of predicting what happened in the 2022 red wave that never came election
It is not surprising our coalition is wandering a bit right now. We have no election happening, unlike Rs, and the Biden campaign hasn’t really turned on yet. Until it is clear that it is Trump vs Biden - perhaps as early as January - we should expect the 2020 Biden coalition to be soft. My guess
We Have Really Important Elections on Tuesday, And Need To Stay Focused - 2023 has been a very good year for Democrats, and we need to close strong. Whatever you are doing to help us win Tuesday, perhaps do a bit more. We do not have the luxury right now of wallowing in worry - we need to go to work. So make your calls, do your canvassing, donate a bit more and if you are looking for something to do please help the Hopium campaign to help us win Virginia.
Hopium community member John Turgeon posted this encouraging message this morning:
Completed a couple of hours of phone banking on Saturday for two of the Virginia Democratic legislative candidates. When I actually got to talk with a voter, the response was mostly positive! I definitely felt energized afterwards.
So grateful to all of you for the work you’ve put in this year. Many of these elections are really close and we just have to put our heads down and go win these things….good luck all, and thank you again!!!!!!!
I Would Much Rather Be Us Than Them - As I look ahead to next year, four basic things keep me optimistic:
Joe Biden is a good President
The country is better off (link)
The Democratic Party is strong, our bench is very deep, and we keep winning elections across the country
They have Trump, Insurrection, Dobbs and MAGA
The Democratic Party Is Strong and On A Very Good Popular Vote Run - Democrats have won more votes in 7 of the last 8 Presidential elections, the best popular vote run of any political party in US history. In the last 4 Presidential elections, Democrats have averaged 51% of the vote, our best showing over 4 elections since FDR’s Presidency. Can we improve on that performance and get to 55% nationally in 2024? I think so.
A reminder that Democrats only broke above 50.1% of the vote once from 1948 all the way to 2004 - 1964, the year after JFK’s assassination. So, that we’ve broken above 51% in 3 of our last 4 elections is a pretty remarkable achievement.
2008 52.9-47.5 Obama-McCain
2012 51.1-47.2 Obama-Romney
2020 51.3-46.8 Biden-Trump
Democrats Keep Outperforming Expectations - In a “red wave” year, 2022, Democrats gained ground from 2020 in 7 key battlegrounds: AZ, CO, GA, MI, MN, NH, PA. We also picked up 4 state legislative chambers, 2 governorships, and 1 US Senate seat. As we’ve written 2022 was not a single nationalized election, but really two elections - a bluer election in the battleground where we gained, and a redder election outside where we did not.
We’ve seen this strong Dem performance continue into 2023 with impressive wins in CO, FL, OH and WI and in special elections across the US. A new 538 analysis: Democrats have been wining big in special elections finds Dems outperforming the partisan lean in districts this year by an average of 10 points in close to 40 special elections across the US - this is a big deal, and similar to what we saw post-Dobbs last year. The Daily Kos special election tracker now has Dems up 7.6 points over 2020 in 27 elections this year. Very encouraging stuff.
Which is why we need to stay focused on the elections in front of us now - we need to keep our strong electoral streak going.
Current Congressional Polling is Very Encouraging for Democrats - We are starting to get data now in the aftermath of the GOP’s Speaker debacle and it’s seriously bad news for Republicans. The current Economist/YouGov tracker has Congressional favs/unfavs at
Congressional Ds 44-51 (-7)/Congressional Rs 35-59 (-25)
Navigator just released its quarterly in-depth look at battleground House districts, and it too finds truly terrible numbers for Congressional Republicans right now:
If this data holds, it’s significant for two reasons: 1) Democrats will be the clear favorites to win the House 2) This degraded GOP Congressional brand will drag down Trump and the overall GOP brand in the Presidential battlegrounds. And yes this is all before these voters come to understand how extreme the new Speaker is.
It’s a bit hard to square this data with the new NYT polling, which is another reason I am not overly concerned about this new polling. Most of the rest of the polling out in recent weeks suggests a much better landscape for Democrats, as does our strong electoral performances across the country this year.
The DCCC just released a very good memo laying out the reasons Dems are favored to win the House next year.
The Democratic Grassroots Has Become A Serious and Sophisticated Force - Millions of proud patriots have come together in recent years to donate, call/text/postcard/canvass and spread the good works of Joe Biden and the Democrats. The unprecedented money we are raising is allowing us to build far larger and more sophisticated campaigns, which 1) can more easily coordinate with and take advantage of the vast remote volunteer army now available to campaigns (all of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) 2) is driving our performance to the upper end of what’s possible in election after election across the country.
As many of you have heard me say the reason Democrats are doing so well on the ground in actual elections is that millions of people have just decided that they are not going to let their democracy slip away and have over the past few years created the strongest grassroots the Democratic Party has ever seen.
We are winning because of all of you.
The Blueing of the Southwest - Democrats are having their best run in the Southwest since the 1940s and 50s. In 2004 Bush won AZ, CO, NM, NV, Rs controlled 5 of their 8 Senate seats, 14 of their 21 House seats. In 2020 Biden was the first Democratic President to win all 4 of these states in a single election since FDR. Today Rs control zero of these 8 Senate seats and Dems control 14 of 24 House seats there.
Our success with Hispanic voters and in heavily Hispanic parts of the country remains one of the Democratic Party’s most successful party-wide efforts over the past generation of US politics, and another reason I am skeptical of these NYT polls.
To Sum Up - We Have Work To Do - We have work to do for Tuesday, and lots of work ahead of us in 2024. But we’ve had three encouraging elections in a row:
2018 - we flipped the House, won the national vote by over 8 pts
2020 - unseated an incumbent President, took back the Senate
2022 - defied history, prevented a red wave from crashing across US, made big gains in most battleground states
And here’s what I said in a recent CNN article - 2024 remains in my mind a year of opportunity for Democrats, a sentiment I am sticking with today despite these polls:
Simon Rosenberg, the long-time Democratic strategist who was proven right as the most prominent public skeptic of the “red wave” theory in 2022, argues that Trump, in particular, is unlikely to match his 47% of the vote from 2020 if the GOP nominates him again. “We are starting at a place where it is far more likely in my mind that he gets to 45% than he gets to 49%,” Rosenberg said. “And if he gets to 45%, we have the opportunity to get up to 55%. The key for Democrats is we have to imagine growing and expanding our coalition for it to happen.”
Beyond the personal doubts about Trump among voters outside the GOP coalition, Democrats such as Rosenberg and Anzalone see several other factors that give Biden a chance to widen his winning margin from the last election. Perhaps the most important of those are the slowdown in inflation, continued strength of the job market, and signs of accelerating recovery in the stock market – all of which are already stirring some gains in consumer confidence. Democrats are encouraged as well by recent declines in the number of undocumented immigrants attempting to cross the Southern border and the crime rate in big cities – two issues on which polls show substantial disappointment in Biden’s performance.
Another change since 2020 is the broad public backlash, especially in Democratic-leaning and swing states, against the 2022 Supreme Court decision ending the constitutional right to abortion, which Trump has directly claimed credit for engineering through his nominations to the court. Finally, compared to 2020, the electorate in 2024 will likely include significantly more young people in Generation Z, a group that is preponderantly supporting Democrats, and fewer Whites without a college degree, now the GOP’s best group.
All of these factors, Rosenberg said, create “an opportunity” for Democrats to amass a bigger majority next year than most consider possible. But to get there, he argues, the party will need to think bigger, particularly in its efforts to mobilize younger voters aging into the electorate. “It’s a man on the moon kind of mindset,” Rosenberg said. “We have to want to go there to get there. We have to build a strategy to take away political real estate from the Republicans because they are giving us the opportunity to take it away from them.”
Many Republican strategists privately agree that the combined effect of the January 6 insurrection and the court’s abortion decision will make it difficult for Trump to expand his support from 2020 if the GOP nominates him again.
I am proud of my party, proud of my President, and proud to be in the fight with all of you. Chins up now, and let’s go win these elections on Tuesday - Simon