Campaign Finance & Elections

Voter I.D. Laws Thwart Democratic Process to Favor Republicans

Christopher Ingraham comments on the results of a new working paper that analyzes “turnout in recent elections — between 2008 and 2012 — in states that did and did not implement the strictest form of voter ID laws. [Researchers] found that these laws consistently and significantly decreased turnout not just among traditionally Democratic-leaning groups, like blacks and Hispanics, but among Republican voters too.”

“The findings are notable because they’re some of the first using data in elections that took place after some states implemented photo ID requirements to vote. Previous studies on the effects of these laws showed mixed results.”

“Their analysis suggests that turnout for Latino voters was suppressed by 10.8 points in states with strict photo ID laws, compared to states without them. For multiracial Americans, the drop was 12.8 points.”

“The net effect of all this? ‘Democratic turnout drops by an estimated 7.7 percentage points in general elections when strict photo identification laws are in place.’ Democrats weren’t the only ones affected, either. The data showed that Republican turnout was depressed by 4.6 percentage points too.”

“But the laws disproportionately affected Democratic voters. ‘The turnout advantage of those on the right is three to five times larger in strict photo identification states, all else equal. These results suggest that by instituting strict photo ID laws, states could minimize the influence of voters on the left and could dramatically alter the political leaning of the electorate.”

Why There’s Imperfection in Early Primary Polling

The Atlantic: “For those shocked by the GOP results [in Iowa], take heart: Iowa is notoriously fickle, and not even top pollsters firmly predicted a win for Trump or Cruz, despite assumptions to the contrary. And it’d be wise to steel yourself for more unpredictability in the minutes, hours, and days leading up to next week’s primary in New Hampshire.”

“Pollsters add that laymen might be overemphasizing the less meaningful parts of these surveys anyway … what polls can’t do is show with ‘a high degree of accuracy’ the percentage of voters each candidate will snag in the end.”

“The ‘dearth of polls’ showing a Cruz victory ‘is not a polling methods question’—a matter of survey set-up—but rather ‘a matter of the dynamic nature of the Iowa caucuses.’ For one, voters in Iowa are allowed to register for the caucuses day-of … Pollsters might have simply caught Cruz at a bad time the week leading up to the caucuses, when Trump was hitting him on his Canadian birthplace, and he had a lackluster debate performance. Once most pollsters stopped their surveys ahead of Iowa, the winds could’ve shifted his way … the caucuses are ‘built for people to decide late or change their minds.’”

“Surveying for New Hampshire’s contest next week is subject to similar dynamics as in Iowa, where timing matters a great deal and where voters’ decision-making can be constantly in flux.”

Is Bernie the Reason Democrats Are Becoming More Liberal?

Philip Bump: “For years, Democrats were much more likely to call themselves ‘moderate’ than ‘liberal,’ according to data from Gallup. In 2000, 44 percent of Democrats described themselves as moderate, compared to 31 percent of Republicans who identified themselves that way. Twice as many Republicans called themselves “conservative” — as did a quarter of Democrats. “Liberal” was the least common way Democrats referred to themselves. That has changed — fast.”

Now, Democrats are far more likely to call themselves liberal than moderate. Compared to 2007, the year before the last contested Democratic primary, Democrats are seven percentage points more likely to identify as liberal and three points less likely to identify as moderate. Compared to 2003, when Dean hoped to ride a progressive wave to the White House, Democrats are 13 points more liberal — and eight points less conservative.

So. It may not be so much that Sanders is driving liberals to the polls or pulling his party in a more progressive direction as it is that Sanders is doing unexpectedly well because his party has already moved to the left. After all, Sanders only won the “very liberal” vote in Iowa by 19 points — far less than the percentages by which he won young people, for example. Among the “somewhat” liberal voters, Clinton won by six.

Americans Hate Government — and Banks

The Atlantic: “Although divisions exist even among those within the same political parties, people seem to agree on one thing: they distrust government and banks. The most recent Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll asked Americans who they trusted most to improve economic opportunity and security for people like them. Amid the presidential election frenzy, only 18 percent of respondents said they trusted elected officials in Washington, D.C., the most to fix the economy, down from 31 percent of people in 2009. More than a third do not trust any major institution—elected officials, labor union, investment banks, major corporations, national banks—to make improvement in their lives.

“Overall more than half of Americans (61 percent) believe that most of the progress tackling the country’s major challenges is happening at the state and local level—more than double those who said it was happening at the national level. Currently, American’s overall trust in the federal government is at its lowest point in the last half century, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 9.24.52 AM

“Americans still said that the government plays an important role. Democrats leaned more heavily toward government playing an active role in regulating the economy … Echoing the division among political parties, younger respondents were less likely to see opportunities in the free market, and supported agendas that invested in education and social programs. Only 36 percent of Millennials supported the more conservative agenda compared to 47 percent of Generation X and 52 percent of Baby Boomers.”

For the First Time, Red States Outnumber Blue

Gallup: Gallup’s analysis of political party affiliation at the state level in 2015 finds that 20 states are solidly Republican or leaning Republican, compared with 14 solidly Democratic or leaning Democratic states. The remaining 16 are competitive. This is the first time in Gallup’s eight years of tracking partisanship by state that there have been more Republican than Democratic states. It also marks a dramatic shift from 2008, when Democratic strength nationally was its greatest in recent decades.

Political Composition of the 50 U.S. States

Importantly, even though Republicans claim a greater number of states, Democrats continue to hold an edge nationally in partisanship.

Party Affiliation by State, 2015

Which Party Benefits from Increased Immigration?

Wall Street Journal: “’Noncitizen/undocumented immigrants are both the enemy and the raison d’être of some politicians,’ wrote Anna Maria Mayda of Georgetown University, Giovanni Peri at the University of California, Davis,  and Walter Steingress at the Bank of France. Their research was published this week as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research.”

“The authors find that both effects do happen. Immigrants who become voting citizens really are more likely to support Democrats, while rising immigration really does cause native voters to more heavily favor Republicans.”

“The key takeaway of the research is that increasing immigration would, on net, boost Democrats in 353 districts. It would only boost Republicans in 55 districts.”

“The districts in which Republicans are boosted [are] districts with a lot of immigration that make voters more likely to vote Republican.”

“Or, in other words, a little bit of immigration helps Democrats by giving them new voters, but a lot of it helps Republicans by driving native voters’ worries … Yes, immigrants who can vote help Democrats; immigrants who can’t vote help Republicans. But both parties appear to face some clear and surprising electoral risks of overdoing it or underdoing it on immigration.”

Democrats Split on Experience and Trust

Philip Bump and Scott Clement: “Two Democratic parties showed up to vote in Iowa on Monday night, and with nearly all of the delegates tallied, the result is essentially a tie.”

“Asked to evaluate the most important factor driving their support, Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa split dramatically on what they were looking for in a candidate. Among those looking for someone to beat the Republican nominee in November, about three-quarters backed Hillary Clinton. An even higher percentage of those looking for a nominee with the ‘right experience’ preferred Clinton to Bernie Sanders. Together, those groups accounted for roughly half of all Democratic voters.”

“Sanders, though, was strongly preferred by those looking for someone that cares about people like them, getting support from 3 out of 4 voters citing that quality. Among voters looking for an honest candidate, Sanders did even better, earning the support of about 4 in 5 Democrats prioritizing that trait.”

Why do the Iowa Caucuses Matter?

Vox: “Why do the quirky Iowa caucuses have this tremendous impact on the race, anyway?”

“Iowa became super important because we — the media, party insiders, activists, the candidates themselves, and even voters to an extent — gradually decided to make it so important. These key players think the caucus results reveal a great deal about which candidates can win elections elsewhere, and the contest for Iowa isn’t really a contest for delegates — it’s a contest to look good in their eyes.”

IA NH winners

“Like it or not, the Iowa results appear to be hugely important in determining who the major parties’ presidential nominees will be — particularly when considered alongside the impact of fellow early state New Hampshire. ‘It’s not remotely a national primary. These national polls mean nothing. The nation isn’t voting’ …Instead, it’s Iowans who get the first say.”

“Like you and I, the political world is obsessed with the question of who can actually win in each presidential nomination race. And a large part of that world has come to believe that the caucus outcomes help shed some important light on that question.”

“It’s pretty weird: Essentially, the Iowa caucuses are important because the media, the candidates, and the political world more broadly all treat their results as greatly important in determining who can win.”

What Matters More to Voters? Policy or Politics?

Drew Altman: “Have you noticed that Republican presidential candidates have spent far less time debating differences between their proposals? One reason: Republicans care less about detailed policy plans than do Democrats.”

“As the chart above shows, 61% of registered Democrats say candidates’ detailed policy plans–on health care or other topics–matter to their vote, and 35% say a candidate’s general values and approach to government matters more. For Republicans it’s the reverse: 51% care most about a candidate’s general values and approach to government, and 45% prioritize their policy plans.”

“When both parties have nominees and the campaign moves into the general election, the candidates will face greater pressure to produce policy plans on major issues … Overall, 55% of registered voters say that it matters more to them if a candidate has a detailed plan to address issues they care about than a candidate’s general values and approach to government, vs. 40% saying they care more about general candidate characteristics than policy plans.”

Tax Rates Under Bernie

Vox: The chart, by Vox’s Javier Zarracina, shows Dylan Matthew’s estimates of how Bernie Sanders would change marginal tax rates on wages, both from payroll taxes and from income taxes.

Note that the Y axis does not increase linearly

“Most taxpayers would see a single-digit increase in their marginal tax rate. People with taxable income below $250,000 would see an 8.8 percentage point increase.”

“But the very rich would see eye-popping increases in marginal rates: from 36.8 percent to 62 percent for people with taxable income between $250,000 and $413,350. The big change here is applying the Social Security payroll tax, which adds another 12.4 points.”

“Even more dramatic are Sanders’s proposed increases to capital gains taxes … Bernie would hike the top rate to 64.2 percent and the rate for many making upper six figures to 49.2 percent.”

The GOP is the Party of the Past

Ronald Brownstein in The Atlantic: “The cul­tur­al and demo­graph­ic gulf between the Re­pub­lic­an and Demo­crat­ic elect­or­al co­ali­tions can now be meas­ured not just in space, but in time.”

“Today, the two parties rep­res­ent not only dif­fer­ent sec­tions of the coun­try, but also, in ef­fect, dif­fer­ent edi­tions of the coun­try. Along many key meas­ures, the Re­pub­lic­an co­ali­tion mir­rors what all of Amer­ic­an so­ci­ety looked like dec­ades ago. Across those same meas­ures, the Demo­crat­ic co­ali­tion rep­res­ents what Amer­ica might be­come in dec­ades ahead. The parties’ ever-es­cal­at­ing con­flict rep­res­ents not only an ideo­lo­gic­al and par­tis­an stale­mate. It also en­cap­su­lates our col­lect­ive fail­ure to find com­mon cause between what Amer­ica has been, and what it is be­com­ing.”

Re­pub­lic­ans rep­res­ent a co­ali­tion of res­tor­a­tion centered on the groups most un­settled by the changes (primar­ily older, non­col­lege, rur­al, and reli­giously de­vout whites). Demo­crats mo­bil­ize a co­ali­tion of trans­form­a­tion that re­volves around the heav­ily urb­an­ized groups (mil­len­ni­als, people of col­or, and col­lege-edu­cated, single, and sec­u­lar whites, es­pe­cially wo­men) most comfortable with these trends.”

“The lar­ger truth is that this cul­tur­al par­ti­tion has frus­trated both parties, by denying either a broad enough reach to es­tab­lish a dom­in­ant, much less dur­able, polit­ic­al ad­vant­age.”

Bernie Sanders’ Health-Care Plan and Its Magic Asterisk

Megan McArdle in Bloomberg asks how Sanders proposes to pay for his health-care plan.

“National Health Expenditure data … says we spent about $3 trillion on health care in 2014 from all sources … Now the government already spends $1.3 trillion, or thereabouts, so … that leaves us with about $1.7 trillion to go. Yet Sanders claims that his plan, despite providing vastly more generous health benefits than basically any plan in existence, will cost only $1.35 trillion a year. That’s a pretty big gap. How does he get there? ‘Reforming our health-care system, simplifying our payment structure and incentivizing new ways to make sure patients are actually getting better health care will generate massive savings.’”

Sanders “has proposed a Magic Asterisk worth a third of a trillion dollars a year … But of course, it would be DOA anyway … Sanders won’t easily persuade congressional Democrats to embark upon another such bruising, vote-losing political battle.”

“The very fact that Sanders relies on the Magic Asterisk shows us just how impossible single payer is in this country. Even Sanders — its fondest supporter, who never met a high-income tax he didn’t like — knows he can’t be upfront about the cost and raise taxes accordingly. If Sanders won’t do it, then no one else will either.”

“Single payer’s off the table, for now and for the foreseeable future. The only place you’re going to see it is on Bernie Sanders’s website.”

The Best and Worst of a Trump Presidency

Gallup: “Asked to name the best or most positive thing about a possible Donald Trump presidency if he were to be elected in 2016, Americans most commonly volunteer his business background, policies on immigration and honesty — that he says what he feels. Other positives mentioned by at least 5% of Americans are his confidence — that he doesn’t back down — and that he would improve the economy. More than four in 10 cannot name anything positive about a potential Trump presidency.”

Suppose Donald Trump is elected president in 2016. In your view, what would be the best or most positive thing about a Donald Trump presidency? January 2016 results

“A clear majority of Republicans are able to come up with a negative aspect of Trump in the White House, also underscoring that by no means do all of those who identify with his party view him positively. Trump’s outsized personality is a dominant part of the way Americans are judging him and his campaign for the presidency. In particular, his personal style and way of expressing himself have become a major part of what Americans say would be the worst things about a possible Trump presidency. At the same time, some of Trump’s personality traits are viewed as positives, including his saying what he feels and not backing down from his controversial statements.”