Saturday, February 29, 2020

ANS -- Bernie Sanders Can Beat Trump. Here’s the Math.

Fairly short article showing that Bernie could actually win.  I thought you would be interested in the thinking here.  

Bernie Sanders Can Beat Trump. Here's the Math.

Most available evidence points in the direction of a popular vote and Electoral College victory.

Mr. Phillips is the host of the podcast Democracy in Color With Steve Phillips.

  • Feb. 28, 2020
Bernie Sanders in Charleston, S.C., on Tuesday.Credit...Damon Winter/The New York Times

Whatever you think about Bernie Sanders as a potential president, it is wrong to dismiss his chances of winning the office. Not only does most of the available empirical evidence show Mr. Sanders defeating President Trump in the national popular vote and in the critical Midwestern states that tipped the Electoral College in 2016, but his specific electoral strengths align with changes in the composition of the country's population in ways that could actually make him a formidable foe for the president.

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Almost all of the current polling data shows Mr. Sanders winning the national popular vote. In the most recent national polls testing Democratic candidates against Mr. Trump, Mr. Sanders beat him in every single one, with margins varying from 2 percent to 6 percent. This has been the case for nearly a year now, with Mr. Sanders outpolling the president in 67 of 72 head-to-head polls since March.

As 2016 proved when Hillary Clinton defeated Mr. Trump in the popular vote by nearly three million votes, however, the Electoral College is what matters most. There, Mr. Sanders also does well, outperforming Mr. Trump in polls of the pivotal battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. In the one poll showing significant Trump strength in Wisconsin (Quinnipiac), Mr. Sanders still fares the best of the Democratic contenders.

In addition to the polling data about how voters might act in the future, there is now the much more valuable information of actual voter behavior in the first three nominating contests, in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. It is not just the fact that Mr. Sanders won the popular vote in all three states, it is how he won that portends hidden and underappreciated general election strength.

Exit polls and precinct analyses show that Mr. Sanders runs strongest with some of the most overlooked and undervalued sectors of the population — young people and Latinos in particular. In all three early states, he received twice as much support from voters under 30 than his closest competitor. In Nevada, he received about 70 percent of the vote in the most heavily Latino precincts.

These particular strengths matter because the composition of the electorate in 2020 will be appreciably different than it was in 2016. Pew Research projects that this will be the most racially diverse electorate ever, with people of color making up fully one-third of all eligible voters. The share of eligible voters from Generation Z (18-23 year olds) will be more than twice as large in 2020 as it was in 2016 (10 percent versus 4 percent).

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Notably, the expanding sectors of the population are much more progressive and pro-Democratic than their aging and white counterparts. Mrs. Clinton defeated Mr. Trump by nearly 20 points among voters under 30, and the anti-Republican tilt of that demographic was even more pronounced in 2018, when 67 percent of them voted Democratic, 35 points more than the number who voted Republican. As for Latinos, nearly two-thirds of that population consistently votes Democratic.

Bernie Sanders supporters in Iowa earlier this month.Credit...Damon Winter/The New York Times

The implications of these developments are most significant in the specific states where the election will be most fiercely fought. In Michigan and Wisconsin, which were decided in 2016 by roughly 11,000 and 22,700 votes respectively, close to a million young people have since turned 18. Beyond the Midwestern trio of states, the demographic revolution has even more transformative potential. Mr. Trump won Arizona, for example, by 91,000 votes, and 160,000 Latinos have turned 18 in that state since then.

To fully harness the energy from the demographic revolution, Mr. Sanders will need to strengthen his support among African-American voters who were more resistant to his candidacy when he faced Mrs. Clinton. His strong support among younger African-Americans could help, but he would be best served by choosing as his running mate an African-American with strong electoral appeal, such as Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives who received more African-American votes in a statewide election than anyone not named Barack Obama.

In addition to those particular parts of Mr. Sanders's strength, he is also well-positioned to win back those voters who defected in 2016 because Mrs. Clinton was too moderate for their tastes. For all the focus on Obama-Trump voters, it was Obama-Stein voters who created the critical cracks in the Democratic firewall (the increase in votes for Jill Stein from 2012 to 2016 was greater than Mr. Trump's margin of victory in Michigan and Wisconsin). Of all the remaining candidates, Mr. Sanders is the most likely to reclaim those Democratic voters who defected to the Green Party in search of a more progressive standard-bearer.

Much of the angst about Mr. Sanders topping the ticket stems from fear about negative fallout in down-ballot congressional races. Here, too, the concerns are overblown. In the vast majority of congressional districts where Democrats ousted Republican incumbents in 2018, it was enthusiasm and the high turnout of Democratic voters that made the difference, much more than alienated moderate Republicans switching their party allegiance. In all but five of the 41 seats picked up by Democrats, increased Democratic turnout alone would have been enough to flip the seats without any Republican crossovers.

While some small number of down-ballot House races could become more competitive, that risk is offset by the opportunity for Democrats to flip even more seats by mobilizing younger and more diverse voters. In 2018, Democrats fell just 1,000 votes short in both the Seventh District of Georgia, for example, where there is a sizable African-American population, and San Antonio's 23rd District, which is more than half Latino. There are several other seats where Democrats could make additional gains with Mr. Sanders atop the ticket.

The empirical evidence shows that there is no need for alarm about Mr. Sanders being the Democratic nominee, and even some cause for confidence. If you want to engage in theoretical thought experiments, a useful exercise would be to ask how many people who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 would switch their votes to back Mr. Trump just because Mr. Sanders was the nominee? Common sense suggests that the answer is infinitesimally small.

If that is the case, then Mr. Sanders would win the popular vote. As for the roughly 78,000 votes in three states that flipped the Electoral College, the particular strengths that Mr. Sanders brings to the contest strongly suggest that he could close that gap and make the leap into the Oval Office.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

ANS -- This chart is the best explanation of middle-class finances you will ever see

this is fairly short but very clear and sad and shocking.  It's about why the economy is NOT  doing well for most people.  With a really good chart.  


This chart is the best explanation of middle-class finances you will ever see

Feb. 24, 2020 at 9:04 a.m. PST

Economists and financial experts have been telling us for years how great things are for U.S. workers and consumers. The stuff we buy is dirt cheap, and living standards are higher than ever. Wages are keeping pace with inflationInequality probably isn't as bad as you've been led to believe. The stock market is booming!

So why, then, do so many of us feel like we can barely make ends meet?

new report published by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, offers a clear explanation for the disconnect between the economy described by economists and the one experienced by regular people. It all boils down to the startling shift illustrated in the chart below.

Image without a caption

Lead author Oren Cass distills it as follows: "In 1985, the typical male worker could cover a family of four's major expenditures (housing, health care, transportation, education) on 30 weeks of salary," he wrote on Twitter last week. "By 2018 it took 53 weeks. Which is a problem, there being 52 weeks in a year."


Cass calls this calculation the Cost-of-Thriving Index. It measures the median male annual salary against four major household expenditures:

  • Housing, defined as the annual rent for a three-bedroom house in the 40th percentile of the local housing market.
  • Health care, defined as the annual premium on a typical family health insurance policy.
  • Transportation, defined as the average cost of owning and operating a car driven 15,000 miles per year.
  • Education, defined as the average cost of tuition, fees, and room and board at a four-year public college.
Image without a caption

In 1985, the typical male breadwinner could cover those costs and still have 22 weeks of pay left for everything else a family wants and needs, such as food, clothing, entertainment and savings. Today, the typical salary doesn't even cover the four basics.

It's worth noting that Cass constructed his index around male earnings because men historically were more likely to be sole breadwinners. Plus, polls show that Americans still view men as the primary provider within a family, even though that's increasingly no longer the case

Cass also ran the numbers for female earners, whose median wage is about 80 percent that of men. In 1985, the typical woman needed to work 45 weeks to cover the four big annual expenses; today she needs 66 weeks. That means it was easier for a female breadwinner to provide for her family in 1985 than it is for a lone male earner today.


On the cost side, the decisions are more straightforward. Cass notably bases education costs on one semester of public college. That's because putting two kids through college would require socking away nearly a semester's worth every year for each year of their childhood.

As for health care, even those with employer-sponsored insurance have been steadily contributing more toward their coverage. The share of the non-elderly with employer-sponsored insurance is actually falling, meaning many families are having to purchase health care plans on their own.

Additionally, the cost of health care is a major concern for many families when a parent switches jobs or is laid off for an extended period.

"A generation ago," Cass writes, the typical male worker "could be confident in his ability to provide for his family not only the basics of food, clothing, and shelter but also the middle-class essentials of a comfortable house, a car, health care, and education. Now he cannot."


Families, of course, have had to adapt to conform to these new realities. Families have become reliant on government for health care. People find ways to skimp on medical care. Some are taking on more debt to pay for housing.

But Cass contends that every adjustment represents an economic challenge. If both parents are working, who is supervising the kids after school? What happens if a family is maxed out on their mortgage, then one spouse loses a job? How long can you avoid the doctor before chronic health conditions catch up with you?

It's these realities, Cass writes, that are most salient for the middle-class families who tell pollsters they live paycheck to paycheck and worry that their kids' standard of living will be lower than theirs. Traditional economists might look at the plummeting price of flat-screen TVs as a sign that standards of living are increasing. But how useful is a cheap TV when you can't afford your insulin?


In recent years, long-held orthodoxies about economics have been challenged by a new generation of liberal economists who see the free-market embrace of staggering economic inequality as a threat to everyone's well-being. Similarly, Cass's work pushes back against those same orthodoxies — but this time, from the right.

His concern about what he calls "market fundamentalism" derives from the way those markets are failing American families.

"You can have a rising GDP," he told The Washington Post's James Hohmann last week, "but if it's in the context of collapsing families and people no longer getting married and declining fertility rates and so on and so forth, you haven't necessarily enhanced well-being."