LET'S WIN THE F*CKING SENATE
Labor Day weekend has passed, which means the summer is over, and also means it is officially campaign season. So let's start thinking about winning a thing! The Senate, in particular.
Recently, we got the very surprising news that Johnny Isakson of Georgia is quitting the Senate, which means, according to esteemed publications like NBC News and Politico, the Senate is suddenly a lot wider open than it was before. But fuck those "esteemed publications," let's look at a pollster who really knows her shit and see what she's been saying the whole time.
Rachel Bitecofer should have become well-known last year when she was the person who most exactly nailed how big the Democratic blue wave was going to be, as in, almost down to the House seat. As it turns out, she's getting recognized right now, so maybe you've seen her on MSNBC in the past few weeks.
Right now, there are 53 Republicans in the Senate, and 47 who are either Democrats or who are "Bernie Sanders" and "Angus King," independents who caucus with the Dems. First of all, let's get out of the way that Doug Jones is probably not going to win re-election in Alabama. Yes, we suppose he could, but let us not use any of that hopeful pipe dreaming shit in our math. That means we need five pickups to get to 51. (And we need to lose zero others that we already have. Should go without saying it, but saying it.)
Bitecofer argues that what predicts our elections right now, in general, and also specifically regarding the upcoming 2020 presidential race, is negative partisanship -- in other words, folks turning out in huge numbers to vote against the other side. And it goes both ways. In 2018, there was a Democratic wave, but Republican turnout was super high as well. Here she is talking to Salon about how she models elections:
This model was built in the wake of the 2016 election. It was built as a response, answering why the models were off in 2016, and it was based on this belief that polarization has changed the behavior of voters. It has decreased the efficacy of things like the economy and increased the predictive power of things like partisanship. So the main predictor in my model is partisanship, the party competition of the state or the district, if we're talking about my 2018 model, and that really sets the frame of the debate.
It has to be within a realm of possibility. To illustrate that, in 2018 when we look at the Senate map, Arizona was an R+5 state — that meant it had a partisan advantage for Republicans of about five points. Tennessee was an R+15 state, and of course, as I predicted, Arizona flipped to the Democrats but Tennessee didn't even come close, despite multiple millions of dollars spent by Democrats in that effort.
The second thing that's most significant and influential — and this is totally unique and new — is the percentage of college-educated residents residing in the state or in the district. This is what I said would be unique and new in the Trump era. This was why I was able to look at maps, at these races that in 2018 people saw as toss-ups, and say, "No, no, no, no. These are going to flip."
In this new era that we're moving into, we have college-educated voters moving towards the Democrats, and white working-class voters moving away from them. That allowed me to look months and months ahead at polling and say, these are the races where Democrats are going to do really well.
She hasn't released a full Senate report yet, but her 2020 presidential model shows Democrats starting with 278 votes in the Electoral College. In other words, don't lounge around on your ass, but we probably are pretty safe when it comes to voting Trump out of office, barring massive interference from Russia or Republican suppression efforts or childish Democratic infighting or a hundred other "X" factors. (Haha, surely that won't happen!) And things do look pretty good in the Senate, if we work hard and play our cards right.
But where do they look good?
Like we said, Alabama is probably going back to the Republicans. And Bitecofer isn't hopeful about Amy McGrath's chances to oust Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, so we are sorry to tell you that information. Why? Negative partisanship. Kentucky's numbers just aren't where they need to be.
On the other hand, Bitecofer was correct when she predicted Arizona would get a Democratic senator in 2018. Kyrsten Sinema beat Republican Martha McSally to take Jeff Flake's old seat, and then McSally was appointed by Arizona's Republican governor to John McCain's old seat, which she must defend in 2020. So that's one pick-up, if Gabrielle Giffords's husband, Astronaut Mark Kelly, can beat McSally. We think he has a hell of a chance.
Colorado is pretty much a blue state at this point, and one-term Republican Senator Cory Gardner is very vulnerable. John Hickenlooper, now that he has fucked right out of the Democratic presidential primary and gone back where he belongs, has a great chance to make that seat blue. So that's two.
Maine: Get the FUCK rid of Susan Collins, please? Can we all agree that, second to deposing Trump, forcing Collins to GTFO and go blame others for her own poor choices elsewhere is an extremely noble goal? Maine's numbers make this very possible. That's three.
By the way, those three races are the ones that the Cook Political Report says are toss-ups. Cook also says Alabama is "toss-up," but Bitecofer is pretty sure Cook is
So! Two more seats we need to pick up, because Doug Jones is probably losing!
Whatcha got left is a Texas (BETO? DAMMIT), a North Carolina, an Iowa, and TWO Georgias. And maybe (maybe) Jim J. Bullock or whoever the fuck he is could have a chance in Montana if he got out of the presidential race and went back to Montana to run for the Senate. Texas, North Carolina, Iowa, and one of the Georgia seats have incumbents, which makes it more difficult, but not impossible. Could the right person beat John Cornyn in Texas, which is rapidly becoming purple? Like, we dunno, maybe BETO? As Bitecofer explained in the quote above, one of the main predictors of how people vote these days is college education, with college educated voters moving to the Democrats. Texas is a heavily suburban state, and who sucks in the suburbs now? Republicans trying to attract college-educated voters.
Stacey Abrams probably actually got more votes in her governor's race in Georgia than Brian Kemp did, when you account for voter suppression and irregularities and the fact that Brian Kemp was also the sitting secretary of state in charge of his own election. Since Isakson's seat is now open, could that one (or both of them) flip? (Stacey Abrams and Sally Yates are not interested, so keep looking, Dems.) We don't know, but Georgia's demographics are changing in some similar ways to Texas's, because SUBURBS. We think at least one of them is do-able.
Iowa was good for the Democrats in the 2018 midterms -- could a combination of voter turnout and Trump's disastrous trade policies send Joni Ernst shuffling out the door in her breadbag shoes? And what about Thom Tillis's seat in North Carolina? (Where there are lots of SUBURBS?)
For the record, Bitecofer says Colorado is an "all but certain" move to the D column, and that Maine is "looking bad" for Susan Collins. Here are some more of her assessments:
The point is, we have to make FIVE. However we do it, we have to count to FIVE. Democrats, can you count to five on your fingers, and can you use those fingers to find your ass with both hands? Time will tell, but in the meantime, let's get to work. Start donating to candidates, and support Stacey Abrams's new organization Fair Fight 2020, which is already working all over the country to protect the integrity of the vote and make sure that all eligible voters have their votes counted. It's time to do shit.
Oh yeah, and if we win the presidency, we guess we only have to pick up four to get to 50 + the vice president's tie-breaking vote in the Senate, but let's try to do more than the bare minimum, OK?
OK LET'S DO THIS GO FIGHT TEAM FUCK YEAH, etc.
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