Drop-out math, 2024 as 1948
High suburban turnout, racial depolarization in the South, how abortion-rights backers changed their message
No. 298 | January 5, 2024
“When North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum dropped out of the presidential race, he had so little support that it didn't affect the Republican primary campaign. When former Vice President Mike Pence ended his campaign, the polls didn't really shift. When former Rep. Will Hurd withdrew, it barely made a ripple.
But now, on the verge of the first primaries and caucuses, most candidates left in the race are big fish, and their inevitable (there can be only one nominee, after all) withdrawals have the potential to significantly alter the trajectory of the campaign. If Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finished third in Iowa and decided to end his campaign, a not-insignificant 12 percent of Republican voters nationwide* would be up for grabs. If former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie bowed out before New Hampshire, 11 percent of Granite State Republicans would be looking for a new candidate. Whom would they turn to?
To find out, we aggregated all the national, Iowa and New Hampshire polls we could find from the past two months that asked Republican voters who their second choice for president is.** And it turns out that people's answers greatly depended on who they said their first choice for president was. In other words, there are relatively well-defined lanes in the 2024 Republican primary.”
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Nate Cohn: Want to Understand 2024? Look at 1948 (New York Times)
In the era of modern consumer confidence data, there has never been an economy quite like this recent one — with prices rising so high and unemployment staying so low.
But just a few years before the consumer sentiment survey index became widely available in 1952, there was a period of economic unrest that bears a striking resemblance to today: the aftermath of World War II, when Americans were near great prosperity yet found themselves frustrated by the economy and their president.
If there’s a time that might make sense of today’s political moment, postwar America might just be it. Many analysts today have been perplexed by public dissatisfaction with the economy, as unemployment and gross domestic product have remained strong and as inflation has slowed significantly after a steep rise. To some, public opinion and economic reality are so discordant that it requires a noneconomic explanation, sometimes called “vibes,” like the effect of social media or a pandemic hangover on the national mood.”
“One of the strengths of Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign is that she’s consolidated support with the Trump-skeptical, college-educated wing of the Republican Party. But that very dynamic remains her biggest obstacle in broadening her support among the larger, increasingly blue-collar GOP electorate.
Haley’s path to a shot at giving former president Trump a credible one-on-one challenge requires almost every break to go her way. She will need to beat expectations with a second-place finish in Iowa by rallying suburbanites to her side, capitalize on New Hampshire’s open primary to beat Trump by winning big with moderates and independents, and then translate that momentum into a victory in her home state of South Carolina.”
Lakysha Jain: Democrats And The 2024 Senate Problem (Split Ticket)
“Most coverage of the 2024 Senate elections frames the race for the majority as resting on a knife’s edge. The logic, on paper, is sound — after all, Republicans need to flip at least two seats to take full control at a time when an exceptionally weak nominee, with a history of elevating extremely problematic candidates, is poised to head their ticket.
We do not completely agree with this train of logic, however, mainly due to differences over how to quantify uncertainty. In common electoral discourse, there is a tendency to treat things as either “safe” or “tossups”, instead of “competitive” and “uncompetitive”, and while the Senate merits description as competitive, it is a far cry from a true tossup.”
"’It will all come down to turnout’ is an oft-ridiculed cliche in election circles. But there's some truth to it: In a highly polarized political environment like the one we're in, election results may be determined more by changes in turnout patterns than by changes in partisan preference. In other words, political parties not only need to convince voters to agree with them, but also to convince voters who already agree with them to vote.
In light of this, political strategists on both sides of the aisle had their eyes on the November 2023 elections as an indicator of who might vote in the 2024 presidential race. So, now that those elections are in the books, what can we take away from them?”
“The Upper Mississippi Delta region is home to some of the strongest and most intractable racial polarization anywhere in the country. Since the mass re-enfranchisement of black voters in the 1960s, white voters have overwhelmingly preferred Republicans while black voters have strongly backed Democrats.
Long-term shifts driven by educational and national polarization have yet to do much to change this dichotomy, either. Suburbs around most southern cities are largely still solidly red, except those in the more educated metros of Charlotte, Atlanta, and Raleigh — conspicuously all cities with relatively high proportions of white voters not native to the South. This does not mention rural areas, where the Democratic floor with non-college rural white voters has continued to fall. “
“Since the 2020 Census, the nation has grown by a historically-sluggish 1.05%, due to increased deaths during and after the pandemic, low birthrates, and decreased immigration. But this picture isn’t equivalent across states by partisan control: GOP trifecta states grew by 3.03% since the 2020 Census, compared to a 0.89% shrinkage in Democratic trifecta states, and a above-average 1.25% growth in states with split control. Most of this divergence was driven by internal migration, with 2.59 million new residents entering GOP trifecta states and 391 thousand entering states with split governments, resulting in loss of 2.98 million from states with Democratic trifectas. This relative loss was alleviated by international migration, which added 1.00 million to red states, 1.17 million to blue states (reducing population loss), and 359,000 to purple states.”
📊 Public Opinion
Molly Ball: How Abortion-Rights Backers Changed Their Message—and Started Winning (Wall Street Journal 🔒)
“Shortly after November’s state-level elections affirmed voters’ support for abortion rights in Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, a Democratic pollster named Angela Kuefler got on a webinar to deliver an analysis—and a warning—to her fellow progressives. Yes, it was clear abortion was a winning issue, she said, but it mattered a lot how advocates talked about it.
‘Talking about this in the context of values really widens our support,’ said Kuefler, an adviser to the Nov. 7 ballot initiative in Ohio that added a right to abortion to the state’s constitution, winning by nearly 14 points in a state President Biden lost by eight. By values, she explained, she was principally talking about the idea of freedom. In polling by Kuefler’s firm, Global Strategy Group, majorities answered “yes” to both “Should we restore the rights we had under Roe v. Wade?” and “Should personal decisions like abortion be up to women rather than the government?” But the latter statement outperformed the former by a whopping 19-point margin, she noted, adding, ‘It’s the values language that allows us to win by such big margins.’
Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe 18 months ago in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, voters have taken the abortion-rights side in seven straight statewide ballots from Kansas to Montana to Michigan. Support for what was long seen as a divisive issue has turned lopsided: In the latest Wall Street Journal poll, 62% said the procedure should be mostly or completely legal, a seven-point increase from before the court’s action. Such shifts on long-debated issues are rare and potentially seismic in an electorate closely divided along partisan lines.
@scottlincicome: "This graphic, drawn from their article, shows that American history textbooks cite mostly causes with no support from academic economists, who in turn promote theories nearly absent from the history texts." (X)
📰 Media Habits
Michelle Faverio: Teens and Social Media Fact Sheet (Pew Research Center)
“Many teens are on social media daily – if not constantly – but daily use varies by platform. About seven-in-ten U.S. teens say they visit YouTube every day – including 16% who do so almost constantly. TikTok follows with 58% who say they visit it daily, while far fewer report daily use of Facebook.”
@BrendanCarrFCC: NEW: Study indicates that TikTok content is being amplified or suppressed based on whether it aligns with the CCP’s geopolitical interests. Rutgers / @NCRI_io research shows massive difference in pro-CCP content on TikTok compared to other major social media platform. “It’s not believable that this could happen organically.” (X)
📰 Data Journalism
Upshot Staff: 10 Data Points and Documents That Made Us 🤔 in 2023 (New York Times)
At The Upshot, one of our favorite compliments from readers is really just a question: How did you think of that?
The best way to answer may simply be to show you. In lieu of a typical “best of” list, we asked our reporters for some evidence of their “aha” (or at least “hmm”) moments this year — the kinds of hidden-in-plain-sight documents, charts or calculations that eventually led to some of our most-read work.
On their own, these snippets and screenshots may not look like much. In some cases, they didn’t even make much sense to us. But they may shed some light on where we find stories and how we work. And, while I’m certainly biased, I think the resulting journalism is something you won’t find anywhere else.”