Tuesday's Tea Leaves In Advance
Polling in Virginia's gubernatorial race shows the two shit candidates, representing the two shit political parties, a dead heat. I wish "none of the above" was an option, but it isn't. The most recent poll-- released yesterday by Roanoke College's Institute for Policy and Opinion Research-- shows a statistical tie, well within the margin of error:
Democrats may be counting on Trump's abysmal approval ratings (37% to 54% disapproval) in the state, although Biden's isn't that great either: 44% approve, 50% disapprove. It's worth mentioning, though, that for all the talk about Republicans being all fired up and beating Dems in terms of enthusiasm, Democrats are trouncing them in early voting-- 53.6% to 30.8%-- as early voting, which ended yesterday, has skyrocketed, at least among likely Democratic voters. In 2017's gubernatorial election 189,891 voted. Last week, 655,297 had already voted! According to TargetSmart, "Of the 655,297 voters, 54.6% are modeled as likely Democratic voters, compared to 30.5% who are modeled Republicans. In 2017, 48.6% of early votes cast were modeled Democratic and 42.1% were modeled Republican. This growth in the modeled Democratic share of the early vote provides further evidence that adoption of early vote since 2020 could continue to disproportionately skew Democratic... Republicans are likely already working with a large vote deficit-- whether they will make up the difference on election day remains to be seen."
[M]ore than 1 in 4 votes cast so far (173,912) have been cast by people who did not vote in 2017. Of those voters, likely Democratic voters account for 47.4% of votes cast, compared to 26.8% likely Republican.
The racial composition of the electorate is just as noteworthy.
Nearly 12% of votes cast thus far have been cast by African American voters, a nearly 4% jump from the final early vote in 2017. This overall increase mirrors the geographic trends we see on the partisan front, where African American turnout has increased more rapidly in Richmond and other areas outside of northern Virginia but has underperformed in the DC suburbs.
Meanwhile, the overall share of white voters has decreased by 4%. Interestingly, the decline in white turnout is largely from non-college educated whites, while college educated whites have maintained a similar vote share...
One potential concerning sign for Democrats is the performance of the youth vote. While the projected Democratic share of the early vote among ages 18-29 (61.4%) is 6 points higher than nine days out in 2017 (55%), overall turnout growth in this age group has not kept pace with the rest of the electorate. Voters ages 18-29 made up 9.7% of the electorate nine days out in 2017, compared with only 5.9% in 2021.
Presumably, young voters are disgusted because of a lack of progressive on Climate, student loan forgiveness, and a lack of ability to deliver of other promises, like tuition-free community college, increased minimum wage, etc.
Virginia has been trending blue for years and Democrats should be doing much better today than polls indicate. Last year, Biden, a totally subpar candidate, beat the greater evil neatly-- 2,413,568 (54.1%) to 1,962,430 (44.0%). In 2016 even the Democrats' below-subpar candidate managed to beat Trump, albeit with half the margin. And even that was just a reflection of how bad Trump was viewed, not an embrace of Democratic Party mediocrity and corruption.
The new NBC News national poll, out this morning, shows Biden's approval numbers continuing to collapse almost into Trump territory "with much of the attrition coming from key parts of the Democratic base... The survey finds that 7 in 10 adults, including almost half of Democrats, believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction, as well as nearly 60 percent who view Biden's stewardship of the economy negatively.
“Democrats face a country whose opinion of President Biden has turned sharply to the negative since April,” said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies.
“The promise of the Biden presidency-- knowledge, competence and stability in tough times-- have all been called into question,” Horwitt continued.
“What people voted for was stability and calm," added fellow Democratic pollster Peter Hart. "And what they got was instability and chaos.”
How will this play out Tuesday in Virginia (and beyond)? Yesterday, Sean Sullivan and Michael Scherer wrote that "Democratic concerns about President Biden’s flagging approval ratings, slow-moving agenda and struggles to sell his accomplishments have burst into public view as candidates, party officials and strategists worry that missteps that have led to a dead heat in the Virginia governor’s race could foretell trouble in next year’s midterm elections. Fear of a defeat that could echo in 2022 is gripping the party as Republicans seek to capitalize on Biden’s unpopularity and on rising anxieties among Americans about the pandemic, immigration, inflation and supply chain bottlenecks. The GOP also is opening new culture disputes over issues such as education, a move that polls show is gaining traction with voters. A year after Biden defeated Donald Trump and set the stage for Democrats’ takeover of the federal government, GOP officials are voicing more confidence than their Democratic counterparts about the overall terrain on which contests for Congress and statehouses will be fought."
Too bad the Democrats can't hang Joe Manchin's and Kyrsten Sinema's bodies from the I-264's Berkley Bridge over the Elizabeth River or the Boulevard Bridge over the James in Richmond-- maybe one from each bridge, so voters could see Democrats are serious about passing an actual working class agenda and earning votes. But they can't; it's illegal and, by some standards, immoral.
There are some who are already saying that if the Democrats do badly in Virginia and New Jersey-- and in other races-- Tuesday it will signal one of two things: either voters are disappointed in the Democrats being unable to deliver OR-- the explanation favored by corrupt conservatives-- voters are angry that the Democratic agenda is too aggressive (and socialist). Polls are clear, of course, that voters overwhelmingly favor what the Democrats have promised-- and failed to deliver. The media will, by its very nature, emphasize the opposite, namely that the Democrats went too far.
Jessica and I worked together for a few years while I was living in Amsterdam. Now she lives in Danville, a small city surrounded by Pittsylvania County in Virginia and Caswell County in North Carolina, two red hellholes. Danville (pop- around 40,000), a former capital of the Confederacy, is a racially diverse city that voted 60.4% to 38.3% for Biden last year. Pittsvylvania County, on the other hand, went for Trump 69.4% to 29.5%. Caswell County in North Carolina isn't as backward but was still a Trump county-- 58.8% to 40.3%. Jessica's grandson Jay, plays in a band and he and I have bonded over music and politics. Like Jessica, he's a Bernie Democrat. He lives in the country outside Gretna, a town with around 1,100 people north of Danville-- and a lot redder. People are ant-vaxx where he lives and angry about "critical race theory." I spoke with him today and he didn't vote and isn't sure if he will on Tuesday. "McAuliffe isn't offering anything but scare tactics and the Democrats are full of shit anyway. We gave them a majority in Congress and they still failed to pass the minimum wage increase. Are they going to apologize after it's too late to do anything about global warming? Is that how it works? Fuck them; fuck Biden... The Republicans are worse and that's the only thing that might get me to vote Tuesday. I'll see how the day's going." People like Jay are savvy-- even in places like Pittsylvania County-- to things like this: