Thursday, June 13, 2019

Brace for a Voter-Turnout Tsunami

From Ronald Brownstein, at the Atlantic, "Even with a surge in overall participation, white working-class voters could still remain decisive in the 2020 election":
Signs are growing that voter turnout in 2020 could reach the highest levels in decades—if not the highest in the past century—with a surge of new voters potentially producing the most diverse electorate in American history.

But paradoxically, that surge may not dislodge the central role of the predominantly white and heavily working-class voters who tipped the three Rust Belt states that decided 2016: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Even amid a tide of new participation, those same voters could remain the tipping point of the 2020 election.

With Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency stirring such strong emotions among both supporters and opponents, strategists in both parties and academic experts are now bracing for what Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist who specializes in voting behavior, recently called “a voter turnout storm of a century in 2020.”

In a recent paper, the Democratic voter-targeting firm Catalist projected that about 156 million people could vote in 2020, an enormous increase from the 139 million who cast ballots in 2016. Likewise, Public Opinion Strategies, a leading Republican polling firm, recently forecast that the 2020 contest could produce a massive turnout that is also unprecedentedly diverse.

“I think we are heading for a record presidential turnout at least in the modern era, and by that I mean since the franchise went to 18-year-olds,” in 1972, says Glen Bolger, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies. “And I mean not only in total numbers [but also] in terms of the percentage of eligible voters [who turn out]. The emotion behind politics … is sky-high, and I don’t think it’s just on one side. I think it’s on both sides.”

McDonald thinks the turnout surge in 2020 could shatter even older records, estimating that as many as two-thirds of eligible voters may vote next year. If that happens, it would represent the highest presidential-year turnout since 1908, when 65.7 percent of eligible Americans cast a ballot, according to McDonald’s figures. Since 18-year-olds were granted the vote, the highest showing was the 61.6 percent of eligible voters who showed up in 2008, leading to Barack Obama’s victory. And since World War II, the highest turnout level came in 1960, with John F. Kennedy’s win, when 63.8 percent of voters participated.

Experts on both sides point to an array of indicators that signal turnout may reach new heights next year. Signs of political interest, from the number of small-donor contributions made to presidential candidates to the viewership for cable news, are all spiking. In polls, very high shares of Americans already say they are paying a lot of attention to the 2020 presidential race.

But the clearest sign that high turnout may be approaching in 2020 is that it already arrived in 2018. In last year’s midterm, nearly 120 million people voted, about 35 million more than in the previous midterm, in 2014, with 51 percent of eligible voters participating—a huge increase over the previous three midterms. The 2018 level represented the largest share of eligible voters to turn out in a midterm year since 1914, according to McDonald’s figures. Catalist estimated that about 14 million new voters who had not participated in 2016 turned out two years later, and they preferred Democrats by a roughly 20-percentage-point margin.

Yet one of the key questions for 2020 is whether Democrats will benefit as much from the likely expansion of the electorate...
Keep reading.

It's gonna be great.

As long as the economy holds up into late next year, Trump is going to be a very formidable incumbent, and difficult to beat.

A lot depends on who the Democrats nominate, and I'm hoping they nominate one of their far-left wing avatars, Bernie, Elizabeth, or Kamala. I'm positive Trump will make short work of them. Biden would be a tricky opponent. And I do think he could cut into some of Trump's working class support. But we'll see. We'll. see.