As background, NDN produced a post-election memo in 2014, “A Wake Up Call For Democrats” which covers some of the ground in the memo below. The original version of this memo was published on the Wednesday after the election, and has been updated. You can also find our thoughts in a series of post-election articles in Time, TNR, the Washington Post and others sources, and in this new US News op-ed, "Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star."
Clinton wins more votes, Dems gain in Senate and House – Yes, a bit spinny given the outcome, but true. Trump has won the Presidency, getting fewer votes than Clinton and winning his big 4 states - FL, MI, PA, WI - by less than 1.5%. What is remarkable is that Democrats have now won more votes in 6 of past 7 Presidential elections, one of the best runs for a political party in US history and yet have very little to show for it. In the exits last night Democrats had meaningful advantages in Party ID and favorability, and Barack Obama had a 53/45 approval rating. A plurality of voters even said they were better off than they were four years ago.
The GOP, a party that has won more votes in a national election only once since 1988, amazingly has more power today in Washington than any time since 1928. That our system could produce this outcome is one of the things that makes America exceptional.
The exits confirm that last night was not a repudiation of the Democratic Party’s agenda, or a significant affirmation of the direction Trump wants to take the country:
-48% said Obamacare was just right or didn’t go far enough, 47% said too far
-70% said illegal immigrants should stay, 25% said deport
-41% approve of building the wall, 54% say no
-48% said criminal justice system treats blacks unfairly, 43% fairly
-31% say they are better off today, 27% worse off, 49% same
Even on the issue of global trade, 42% said trade takes away jobs, 38% said creates jobs.
So what this means in practical terms is that it is hard for Trump and the Republicans to claim a clear mandate. They have only won one more votes in a national election once since 1988, and will have to work hard in the coming months to build majority support for their agenda.
Dems Need A Big Discussion About Turnout, Our Coalition – Democrats need to have a robust debate about why we’ve had such a hard time replicating Obama’s success with the majority coalition he built in 2010, 2014 and again in 2016. No doubt that the Trump campaign impressively outperformed expectations in most national polls. But an early and quick read on the data suggests that once again the Democrats did not meet their targets with their own voters – and in this race resources were not an issue. More on this issue in future memos.
Younger Americans Are Much More Democratic – Using the national exit polls, voters under 45 went for Clinton 53% to 39%, and those 45 and over went for Trump 52% to 44%. 56% of the electorate was 45 and over, 44% under 45. Maximizing the under 45 vote – people who came of age after Reagan’s Presidency – remains one of the highest demographic priorities for Democrats. Not sure what it means yet, but the 4 states that cost Clinton the election last night – FL, MI, PA, WI – have very low %s of Millennials compared to other states.
For more on Millennials and the youth vote, see our new report on Millennials, this excellent post-election report from Tufts/Tisch/CIRCLE, and Democracy Corp's election night survey showing the Millennial share of the electorate grew from 19% in 2012 to a remarkable 29% in 2016.
Huge Mistakes By Clinton Campaign - It is hard to escape the conclusion that the Clinton campaign both badly misread the election in the final months, and made terrible decisions about the allocation of its campaign resources and candidate time. This new article by Sam Stein in the Huffington Post captures the failures in Michigan and Wisconsin. But it goes deeper than just those two states. Discussions have to be had about huge overinvestments in IA, NC and OH, and whether AZ should have been a prime target general election target from June on. As of 11/20, Clinton's margin in AZ is only 3.6%, better than the Democratic performance in IA, NC and OH (see our new memo on AZ, and the strong showing for Dems in CA and TX too). Politico just published a new report on how the Clinton campaign blew Michigan - and it is tough reading. And then there is the question of Trump's far more aggressive general election campaign schedule, something that no doubt made a difference in a very close race.
Given the financial advantages and unified party behind the campaign, the team running Clintonworld will have to explain to the rest of us about what appears to be fatal misjudgements in the general election.
Thanks Comey! – According to the exits, of the 26% of people who made up their minds in the last month, Trump won them 49%-39% (yes during the period of the debates, the Access Hollywood video). Of the 73% who made up their minds before the last month, Clinton won 51%-46%. Very hard to not conclude from this data that the Comey intervention in the election was consequential.
Not sure all of us have yet processed the unprecedented intervention of a foreign government and the FBI in this election. With Rs in charge of Congress and the White House, will be hard to have this conversation next year but it is a conversation that needs having.
Political Reform – Given the obvious concerns about a “rigged” system that no longer works for everyday people, why Hillary Clinton never developed a serious conversation around reforming our politics remains one of the great mysteries of the 2016 election. See my piece from December, 2012 about why political reform had to become central to the politics of the center-left in the years ahead.
A New Generation of Democrats Will Have to Lead Now – The Obama Presidency and the 24 years of leadership provided by Bill and Hillary Clinton will now yield to a new era for the Democratic Party. Surveying the landscape – Schumer, Kaine, Booker, Sanders, Warren, Becerra, Michael Bennett, Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, Joe Kennedy, the Castros, Tulsi Gabbard, etc – Democrats have a very promising set of leaders capable of carrying the Party forward.
Democrats will also have to become far more purposeful about preparing for the generational handoff from Boomer generation politicians to younger ones. The Democratic Party is a young, diverse and growing party. Its future success will depend on advancing leaders who can connect with and excite these voters.
Big questions now about what the Obamas do, and the role they play in what comes next.
Folks Should Be Careful About Calling This A Change Election – While there is clear evidence “change” was something people sought, the country is neither as angry or disquieted as some have been suggesting. Let’s go through some data here. Incomes have been going up for four years. 2015 saw the largest income gains for American workers in the recorded economic history of the United States. The unemployment rate is under 5%. Violent crime, the killings of Americans by terrorists and the killing of police are all at rates far lower than during the Bush Administration. The uninsured rate is at historic lows. Heath inflation, the biggest driver of the deficit, has been lower this decade than in a generation. Energy prices are low, America has become a net energy exporter, and the growth of renewables is exploding. The net flow of unauthorized immigrants into the US has gone from 400,000 a year under Bush to zero today, while trade with Mexico has more than doubled.
And public opinion confirms this. In a recent Gallup poll 62% of Americans said things are getting better. 53% of Americans report that things are good in a recent CNN poll. President Obama’s approval rating is in the mid to high 50s, the highest mark of his second term and higher than President Reagan at the end of his Presidency. A recent Bloomberg poll found only 28% of Americans saying that since Obama’s election they are worse off, with 21% saying things are the same and 49% better. While the exits last night found fewer people saying better off, the number saying worse off was about the same – 27%. And in the exits, 37% said the next generation will be better off, 34% said worse. This simply isn't rebellion level numbers folks.
The exits also asked a direct question – which candidate quality mattered most? 39% said “can bring change,” and they went 83% to 14% for Trump. This is a plurality, not a majority.
This is not to say that we don’t have challenges, or that that there isn’t disquiet in the American electorate. But it is not a majority sentiment of the public at large, and was not even close to being a majority sentiment of those who voted last night. But it is a majority sentiment of Republican voters as this party break out of recent CNN data suggests:
Source:CNN/ORC poll data from September 1-4, 2016. According to this CNN/ORC poll, 53 percent of Americans believe economic conditions in the US are good. The question asked in the survey was: “How would you rate the economic conditions in the country today -- as very good, somewhat good, somewhat poor, or very poor?” See our recent report, “America Is Better Off And Safer Today” for citations for the data in this section.
“After the first day of Senate Judiciary Mark-Up, it is clear the Senate Immigration Bill (S.744) retains significant bipartisan momentum. Some smart amendments were added to the bill, but more importantly bad ones were rejected. The thoughtful bipartisan core of the bill remains intact. The adept management of this early stage of the Committee process leaves us optimistic about the bill’s passage. Some additional observations:
The Grassley amendment Extending the Higher Border Apprehension Goals To The Whole Border – The Gang of Eight Bill called for new border security targets of 100% surveillance and 90% apprehension rate of people attempting to cross the border in what are called “high traffic” corridors where most of the north-bound flow lies. Senator Chuck Grassley’s amendment #1 adopted yesterday extended that goal to the entire border.
It remains to be seen if this is a good idea. The original target appears achievable with the amount of money allocated, the time required (5 years) to achieve these goals, and taking into account where these apprehension rates are today. A December report from the Government Accountability Office reported that of the Border Patrol’s nine southwest-border sectors, five had more than 30,000 apprehensions in fiscal 2011, making them a “high traffic” corridor. Of these five, San Diego, CA had a 92% apprehension rate, El Centro, CA 91%, Tucson, AZ 87%,Laredo, TX 84 % and the Rio Grande corridor in Texas was 71%.
Given where things stand now, it seems reasonable that with the time allotted and additional resources the 5 high traffic corridors, where the overwhelming majority of the north bound flow lies, can hit the new 90% apprehension rate target. Whether it is prudent to extend that goal to areas where far fewer migrants pass, and in places that are often remote and difficult to police, is something that deserves debate in the coming months.
The Feinstein Infrastructure amendment - We were further heartened to see that Senator Diane Feinstein’s amendment #10, was adopted. This important amendment would allow the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the governors of the States in the Southwest border region and the Northern border region to establish a grant program “to construct transportation and support infrastructure improvements at existing and new international border crossings necessary to facilitate safe, secure, and efficient cross border movement of people, motor vehicles, and cargo.”
Coupled with the far-sighted commitment in the Senate Bill to add an additional 3,500 new customs agents, the improved legislation makes a truly significant commitment to investing in expanding legal trade and travel with Mexico. As our new paper, Realizing the Strategic National Value of our Trade, Tourism and Ports of Entry with Mexico details, the economic relationship between the US and Mexico has become one of the most important in the world. In just the past 4 years, trade between US and Mexico has grown from $300 billion to $536 billion last year. Mexico is now our 3rd largest trading partner, 2nd largest export market. 23 states in the US count Mexico as their number 1 or 2 export market of all the countries in the world. The smart investments in this bill directed towards border infrastructure investment will help ensure that this explosive trade relationship continues to expand, and jobs on both sides of the border continue to be created.
On Thursday, April 4th, Simon debated noted restrictionist Mark Krikorian on in an extended segment on Betty Liu's morning show on Bloomberg TV. He argued: "the politics of this are not impossible... I'm very optimistic we're going to get something done this year." He then continued to defend the progress on the border, explaining "Crime is way down along the entire US side of the border... There's been tremendous progress made... and to disregard that is just lying," largely crediting the Adminsitration for this success. It is a spirited segment, well worth a watch.
Your Daily Border Bulletin is up! Today's stories include:
Homeland Security Today: No furloughs for CBP. Continuing Resolution to Provide CBP Boosts to Maintain Staffing: President Barack Obama is set to sign a continuing resolution (HR 933) to fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2013, ostensibly increasing funding for border security efforts for the year. The appropriations bill allocated $39.6 billion to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), detailing DHS spending while keeping the overall budget within the caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 — at $984 billion overall for FY 2013. The White House has not yet announced if Obama will sign the consolidated appropriations bill Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
Politico – Business balks at immigration deal A deal between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor groups on visas for low-skilled workers was supposed to clear a path for an immigration reform package in the Senate. Instead, some business groups are grumbling about the deal and they’re gearing up for a lobbying battle on Capitol Hill — where powerful interests helped doom immigration reform over the same issue before.
New York Times Op-Ed: Priced Out of Citizenship by Rahm Emanuel and Rep. Luis V. Guttierez AS Congress debates creating a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, it must at the same time remove one of the biggest obstacles on that path: the cost of applying for citizenship. Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the Department of Homeland Security, charges $680 (including a mandatory $85 “biometric fee” to cover fingerprinting) to apply for naturalization. This steep fee, which can amount to more than two weeks’ wages for some immigrants, is so high that it effectively denies legal permanent residents a chance to become citizens.
Your Daily Border Bulletin is up! Today's stories include:
Senate immigration deal close to Obama plan: The nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants would have to wait a full decade for a green card but could earn citizenship just three years after that, under a provision being finalized by a bipartisan group of eight senators working to devise an overhaul of immigration law, several people with knowledge of the negotiations said. Taken together, the two waiting periods would provide the nation’s illegal immigrants with a path to United States citizenship in 13 years, matching the draft of a plan by President Obama to offer full participation in American democracy to millions who are living in fear of deportation.
Negotiations continue for business and labor Talks led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO over a new guest-worker program for lower-skilled immigrants are stalled, prompting members of the bipartisan group of eight senators to get personally involved to try to nudge the negotiations toward a resolution. Business and labor groups have been meeting for weeks in an attempt to put together a system that would allow employers to find foreign labor when American workers are not available and that would allow foreign workers into the country. The idea is to create a new “W” visa category for lower-skilled guest workers. No such visas exists right now, leaving a vacuum that undocumented workers have been filling.
Arizona Border More Secure Because of Enforcement Flying low along the Mexican line in a Black Hawk helicopter, the United States Border Patrol officer saw surveillance towers rising above the cactus. He saw his agents’ white and green trucks moving among the mesquite, scouting for illegal crossers. Far overhead, a remotely guided drone beamed images of the terrain to an intelligence center in Tucson. Pilots cruised in reconnaissance planes carrying radars and infrared cameras that could distinguish a migrant with a backpack from a wild animal from many miles away.
Today, I released the following statement. For press inquiries, please contact Anjani Nadadur at email@example.com.
We are pleased to see both President Obama and the Senate taking such serious steps towards passing immigration reform in this Congress.
As we move forward on this debate, it is critical to recognize how much circumstances have changed since we began the process of reforming our immigration system back in 2005.
A few examples:
Success on the Border - Additional resources, better strategies, and enhanced cooperation with Mexico have brought about significant improvement in the border region. Net migration of undocumented immigrants into the US has dropped from 500,000 a year a decade ago to zero today, crime on the US side of the border has plummeted, all while legal trade and tourism with Mexico have grown at very rapid levels.
Mexico Is Growing, Modernizing - The Mexican "baby boom" which encouraged so many Mexicans to migrate into the US has ended, and the Mexican economy is producing far more better paying jobs. The birth rate per Mexican woman had fallen from 7.3 in 1960 to almost 2 today. Mexican economic growth is equally significant: by 2010, Mexican GNI per capita had risen to nearly $9,000, up from $3,250 in 1991. Today Mexico is the 13th largest economy in the world, is America’s 3rd largest trading partner and 2nd largest export market. If current trends continue, Mexico will be the 5th largest economy in the world by 2050. The result of these developments is that the enormous flow of undocumented immigrants from Mexico into the U.S. we saw in the decade of the 2000s is almost certainly never going to be replicated.
The Immigration System Is Better - While Congress failed to act, the Obama Administration has taken a series of steps to improve the legal immigration system in the US in recent years, including: prioritizing criminal migrants for deportation, making it easier for families to stay together during the legalization process, replacing work place raids with more targeted and effective I-9 audits and removing the threat of deportation from deserving undocumented youth.
For those in Washington working on a 2013 Immigration Reform legislative package, it is essential that they take into account how much safer the border region is today, how much better the legal immigration system is, and how much Mexico itself is changing.
We are optimistic that the two parties can come together this year, building on the success of recent years, and take the critical next steps to reform the immigration system in America.
For more, see here for important NDN work on immigration reform and please find recent press on immigration reform here.
Daily Border Bulletin is up! Today's stories include, please click here for the full stories:
USA Today – Rep. Gowdy selected to head key immigration committee - House leaders chose a vocal opponent of illegal immigration to head up the chamber’s immigration subcommittee, which will play an integral role in the upcoming debates on how to reform the nation’s immigration laws.
BBC – Mexico to create new police force in drugs policy shift - Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, has announced the creation of a new national police force as part of efforts to tackle crime and violence.
National Journal – Opinion: New Year’s Resolution for Congress Should Be Passing Immigration Reform - Amid all the talk of the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling, White House and congressional staffers are working behind the scenes on negotiating some consensus on another major issue: immigration reform. If they can deliver a Christmas present in the form of avoiding the fiscal cliff, then passing immigration reform should be their New Year’s resolution.
One of the more curious developments in American politics over the last two decades is the political malpractice of Republicans in dealing with Hispanic-Americans. Indeed, it now appears that the 2012 election may well be determined by the share of the Latino vote that Governor Mitt Romney is able to keep from falling into President Barack Obama’s column.
According to the Investor’s Business Daily tracking poll, Hispanics prefer Barack Obama by a greater than 2:1 margin (61% to 29% on October 25). Hispanic-Americans have tilted toward the Democrats for decades, so it is hard to blame the Republican Party’s current predicament on just the political tactics of this year’s campaign.
But unlike the African-American vote since the 1960s, which has remained rock solid Democratic, history indicates that on occasion the GOP has competed for and won a significant share of the Latino vote. Hispanics tend to be family oriented and somewhat entrepreneurial, which should make them potential Republicans.
But deliberate, conscious decisions by Republican leaders focused on the short run gains from immigrant bashing have done severe damage to the long term health of their party. Attacks on immigrants have caused Hispanics to desert the GOP in droves, particularly in the two most recent presidential elections. And, because the Latino population is relatively youthful, if this concern is not dealt with, it may become even more acute for the Republican Party in the years ahead. Among Millennials, America’s youngest adult generation, about one in five is Latino as compared with about one in ten among Baby Boomers and one in twenty among seniors. Among the even younger Pluralist generation (children 10 years old and younger) between a quarter and 30% are Hispanic. Between these two up-and-coming generations, it’s likely that Hispanics will represent nearly 30% of the nation’s population within the next few decades. This suggests that the Republican Party has little hope of winning national elections in the future unless it reverses its current policies to bring them more in alignment with the attitudes and beliefs of this key voter group.
Some have estimated that Ronald Reagan won 37% of the Hispanic vote in his successful 1984 re-election campaign. Since then the presence of Hispanic voters in the electorate has grown by 400%, but the Republican share of their votes has risen above the level at which Latinos supported Reagan only once. That occurred in 2004 when Karl Rove’s strategic focus on Latinos enabled President George W. Bush’s re-election effort to win upwards of 40% of the Hispanic vote. In every other presidential election since 1984, Republicans have struggled to win the votes of even one out of three Hispanics.
Recent data from Pew Research demonstrates that the Hispanic rejection of the GOP was not pre-ordained. Their recent survey showed 70% of Hispanics now identify themselves as Democrats, but that this percentage falls to just 52% among Evangelical Hispanics, a fast growing group whose cultural attitudes are more conservative than those of the overall Hispanic population. In 2004, President Bush actually won a majority of the Hispanic Protestant vote even as his support among Catholic Hispanics failed to improve from his showing in 2000.
Catholic Hispanics, who comprise about 60% of all Latinos, are more likely to vote based on perceived loyalties to their social-economic class than their attitudes on social issues. Bertha Gallegos, who is Catholic, pro-life and the Vice President of the Colorado Society of Hispanic Genealogy, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that researches the state’s Latino history, typifies the attitude among members of her faith toward the Republican Party. “I still don’t get how Hispanics can be Republicans. The only time they’re nice to us is when they want our vote. Republicans work to make the rich richer. They don’t care about the poor.”
Since the virulently anti-immigrant campaign in favor of Proposition 187 in California that attempted to bar immigrant access to basic social services the Republicans have continued to play exactly the wrong tune for Hispanics. In this year’s Republican primary, there was much emphasis on removing undocumented immigrants from American soil through self-deportation or other more draconian means, Republicans have allowed economic resentment and cultural fears to get in the way of positive voter outreach to America’s fastest growing minority population. After all, many Latino legal residents and citizens also have relatives and friends who are undocumented.
Yet studies as far back as the 2000 presidential election have shown that when properly engaged, Hispanics have an open mind on which party deserves their support. Latinos in that election were statistically more likely to support Bush over Gore if they were contacted by Latino rather than Anglo Republicans. Clearly the election in 2010 of Latino Republican governors, Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada, suggests that the community remains open to such appeals in the future.
Before such efforts can be successful however, Republicans will have to reverse course on their attitudes toward comprehensive immigration reform, a cause which traces its historical lineage to Ronald Reagan and which was a key part of Karl Rove’s re-election strategy for George W. Bush. Only when the Republican Party’s message changes will their messengers deserve and be able to gain a respectful hearing from America’s Hispanics.