Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Democrats say they now know exactly why Clinton lost

They are beginning to accept that they have lost the workers

A group of top Democratic Party strategists have used new data about last year's presidential election to reach a startling conclusion about why Hillary Clinton lost. Now they just need to persuade the rest of the party they're right.

Many Democrats have a shorthand explanation for Clinton's defeat: Her base didn't turn out, Donald Trump's did and the difference was too much to overcome.

But new information shows that Clinton had a much bigger problem with voters who had supported President Barack Obama in 2012 but backed Trump four years later.

Those Obama-Trump voters effectively accounted for more than two-thirds of the reason Clinton lost, according to Matt Canter, a senior vice president of the Democratic political firm Global Strategy Group. In his group's analysis, about 70 percent of Clinton's failure to reach Obama's vote total in 2012 was because she lost these voters.

Canter and other members of Global Strategy Group have delivered a detailed report of their findings to senators, congressmen, fellow operatives and think tank wonks — all part of an effort to educate party leaders about what the data say really happened in last year's election.

"We have to make sure we learn the right lesson from 2016, that we don't just draw the lesson that makes us feel good at night, make us sleep well at night," Canter said.

His firm's conclusion is shared broadly by other Democrats who have examined the data, including senior members of Clinton's campaign and officials at the Democratic data and analytics firm Catalist. (The New York Times, in its own analysis, reached a similar conclusion.)

Each group made its assessment by analyzing voter files –– reports that show who voted in every state, and matching them to existing data about the voters, including demographic information and voting history. The groups determined how people voted — in what amounts to the most comprehensive way to analyze the electorate short of a full census.

The findings are significant for a Democratic Party, at a historic low point, that's trying to figure out how it can win back power. Much of the debate over how to proceed has centred on whether the party should try to win back working-class white voters — who make up most of the Obama-Trump voters — or focus instead on mobilizing its base.

Turning out the base is not good enough, the data suggest.

"This idea that Democrats can somehow ignore this constituency and just turn out more of our voters, the math doesn't work," Canter said. "We have to do both."

Democrats are quick to acknowledge that even if voters switching allegiance had been Clinton's biggest problem, in such a close election she still could have defeated Trump with better turnout. For example, she could have won if African-American turnout in Michigan and Florida matched 2012's.

They also emphasize the need for the party to continue finding ways to stoke its base. Democrats can do both, said Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, a super PAC that backed Clinton last year and now is trying to help Democrats return to power.

"I really do believe that we should reject this idea that if we just focus on turnout and the Democratic base that that will be enough," he said. "If that really is our approach, we're going to lose six or seven Senate seats in this election. But, I also believe that just talking about persuasion means we are not capitalizing on an enormous opportunity."

Priorities USA released a poll last week, conducted in part by Cantor's firm, that found the Democratic base — including voters who usually sit out midterm elections —unusually motivated to participate in the next election. The group have said in recent months that Democrats can both reach out to white working-class voters and their base with a strong message rooted in economic populism.

Still, the data say turnout was less of a problem for Clinton than defections were. Even the oft-predicted surge of new voters backing Trump was more myth than reality. Global Strategy Group's review of Ohio, with Catalist, found that Clinton won a majority of new voters in the state. (Global Strategy Group examined North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Nevada as part of its analysis).

Belief that turnout was the main reason Clinton lost, however, remains a prominent theory among Democrats.

"There's an active conversation within the party about whether persuasion was the problem or turnout," said Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, vice president for social policy and politics at Third Way, a center-left Democratic think tank.

That debate is complicated because some Democrats think winning over voters is already a lost cause, Hatalsky said.

"There's still a real concern that persuasion is harder and costs more than mobilization, so let's just triple down on getting out the people who already agree with us," she said. "And I think there's a lot of worry that we don't actually know how to persuade anymore, and so maybe we should just go talk to the people we agree with."

A conversation about where Democrats go next as a party inevitably turns into a discussion about whether it should embrace a form of economic populism similar to one pushed by Sen Bernie Sanders, or move instead to the political middle.

Canter argued that Trump's president's "special sauce" combines his economic populism with a political populism that vilifies both parties.



It Will Take An Ax, Not A Scalpel, To Control Federal Spending

The federal government once again hit the debt ceiling. The ceiling limits the amount of money the federal government can borrow — a number that was set at $20.1 trillion.

Although the issue should have been dealt with in 2015, then-Speaker John Boehner capitulated to President Obama and postponed the debt limit until March 16, 2017. Since then, the federal debt has grown by $1,414,397,000,000 — more than one trillion in less than two years.

President Trump promised during his campaign to bring back American prosperity and make Washington work for everyone — not just for the small group of Washington elite inside the Beltway.

His recently released budget decisively delivers on these promises and deserves its title: "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again." It recognizes that federal spending is out of control and represents the first serious attempt to tame it in decades.

Although the budget does grant significant increases to Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, it is more remarkable for the significant cuts that it makes. The EPA received a 31% cut. It cuts the Agriculture budget by 21% and the State Department budget by 28%.

The plan also cuts funding entirely to several smaller federal programs, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Between these cuts, the freeze on federal hiring and President Trump's executive orders on regulation, government and its stranglehold on American industry will loosen.

Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination also helps in this respect: He is an avowed opponent of Chevron deference, the court ruling that allows agencies to irresponsibly interpret laws as they please if there is no clear mandate from Congress.

Companies will soon be free to spend money on new initiatives and on hiring, rather than paying lawyers to help them steer around increasingly extensive and arcane regulations.

However, as helpful as these cuts are, they represent only a fraction of what the federal government spends every year. They come out of the nondefense discretionary spending budget (NDD) which is just a drop in the ocean of our trillions of dollars of debt. NDD only comprises roughly 30% of federal spending — the other two-thirds go to entitlements and defense.

If Congress and President Trump want to effect serious change and push for a balanced budget, they need to be willing to make serious cuts to entitlement programs. Reforming floundering programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security is the only real way to make a lasting impact on our federal debt.

Republicans must consider adopting a reform plan like that proposed by Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, in the 114th Congress. Rep. Johnson's plan reworks how Social Security benefits are distributed and increases the age at which workers can collect benefits to 69.

Social Security will dry up in a few years with an $11.4 trillion deficit, but adopting Johnson's reforms could result in a $600 billion reserve, according to Social Security's Chief Actuary Stephen Goss.

If similar changes can be made to other entitlement programs, federal spending can be reduced in streams and not just in drops.

Republicans must also rework the current ObamaCare replacement bill, which as it is written will only deepen our debt. The bill essentially adds yet another entitlement program through its use of totally refundable tax credits, and it allows states to continue to enroll patients in Medicaid until 2020.

We need a long-term, sustainable health care program like that proposed by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., which will restore the patient-doctor relationship and not worsen our already precarious fiscal position.

Ultimately, however, one president's budget will not be enough to permanently fix the perpetual problem of the debt ceiling. It's too soon to tell how the country will vote in 2020, and we could have leadership willing to spend as blithely as President Obama did over the past eight years.

Republicans must take this unique moment of political majority to prevent raising the debt ceiling in the future. If they do not, it will inevitably happen again. No matter how staggering our debt is, Washington can always make excuses for raising the debt ceiling. Congress has raised it 74 times since 1962 and 10 times since 2001.

Politicians' usual excuse is that raising the debt ceiling does not automatically allow the federal government to spend more money. It only allows it to continue paying for already-authorized spending.

But the higher limit inevitably results in higher spending. We need to put a stop to this pattern now before we permanently cripple future generations with our profligate spending.

Congress should also consider a constitutional amendment to require balanced budgets. The majority of state governments do this, and it is absurd that the federal government is not held to the same standard.

The last time a bill proposing the amendment was on the floor, it didn't get the two-thirds majority necessary for it to go to the states.

But with Republicans controlling the House, the Senate and the White House, as well as 32 state governments, and with a strong public mandate to reduce federal spending, what was impossible in 2011 may be possible in 2017 — provided Congress can get consensus and vote this year.

One thousand FreedomWorks activists stormed Congress in March to hold their representatives to their campaign promises, and they are backed by thousands more activists across the country.

Americans want to see government spending under control, and Republicans have a perfect opportunity to break the cycle of continually raising the debt ceiling. If they act now, they can return our country's power to its proper place — the states and the people.



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1 comment:

Unknown said...

1. The continuing flood of immigrants will make the votes of white working and lower middle class people who are being trampled by the system irrelevant and hard-corps Dems know it. At worst they're just premature, but there's no reason for them to change their course, they just have to wait. And the intense hatred they feel for those voters gives them incentive to wait. Hurting those voters, murderously hurting them, is a feature, not a bug. Look at the crickets displayed to the news that the white death rate is climbing. Demographics is destiny.

2. Maybe those voters would have voted for a Republican instead of Obama and other Democrats if the Republicans had offered some populist programs that actually helped the majority of their constituents instead of pandering to the plutocrats and licking the hand of their alleged opponents. Their class bigotry apparently prevented them from doing so. Instead they gave the left open borders in exchange for being allowed to service their Wall Street masters with deregulation and free trade. Open borders will destroy conservatism, the Republican Party, freedom, and ultimately the nation, but these Quislings just don't care, they're getting theirs.