TRENDING — Democrats got a dose of promising campaign news this week: The party vastly surpassed expectations in two state legislative special elections, the latest data points in an almost unblemished streak of overperformance in special elections since January. The most recent victories — a landslide win in the Pittsburgh suburbs and a flipped seat in New Hampshire — are fueling a round of speculation that Democrats might have a better shot up and down the ballot in 2024 than polls currently suggest.
There’s no doubt that this run of special elections, held in roughly a dozen states, is cause for hope for Democrats. Yet it’s also important not to read too deeply into the outcomes. For the most part, these contests were relatively low-turnout affairs held in a non-election year, so there are caveats attached to the results. Among them: Many of these specials took place in districts with a high percentage of white voters with a college degree, a voting bloc that’s trended increasingly Democratic.
The special elections don’t, for example, illuminate what should be a deeply concerning trend for the party — polling showing erosion among people of color, long a reliable voting bloc for the party. Although Biden won the 2020 election with more than 70 percent support from non-white voters, the New York Times reports that, on average, he now leads Trump by just 53 percent to 28 percent among those voters, according to a compilation of Times/Siena polls from 2022 and 2023.
Support for Biden among non-white voters without a college degree is dropping — a change significant enough to impact results in competitive states with larger minority populations, such as Georgia, North Carolina and Arizona.
The working-class decline is particularly notable — and exceptionally worrisome — to the campaign because they’ve been such a reliable bloc for Democratic candidates. In 2012, Barack Obama won the nonwhite working class by a 67-point margin. In 2020, Biden won the group over by a 48-point margin against Trump. His lead has now dropped to just 16 points.
Higher costs of living have pushed these nonwhite working class voters — many of whom identify as moderate Democrats — to lose faith in Biden. That is particularly true among those who make less than $50,000, even though Democrats have long been more popular with lower-income non-white voters than their higher-income counterparts.
Biden touts his record of creating more than 13 million jobs as proof that he has the economy under control. It is the Republicans, he says, who are putting the working class at risk by prioritizing tax cuts for the wealthy and jeopardizing budget negotiations that could lead to a government shutdown on Oct. 1.
But many people aren’t buying it.
Forty-nine percent of Black voters thought the economy was “only fair” while 47 percent of Hispanic voters viewed it as poor. There’s a clear disconnect between the work the Biden administration is putting into improving Americans’ lives and how the economy is actually perceived, and that’s driving the wedge between working-class voters of color and the party.
Biden’s campaign is hard at work highlighting economic accomplishments including the fastest rate of creation of Black-owned small businesses in 25 years, and the increasingly low unemployment in Black communities.
He’s also hired more Black and Brown staff — including Julie Chávez Rodríguez as his reelection campaign manager — to spread the message about his accomplishments with the economy in a way that is better tailored to individual communities. A diverse staff will be key to highlighting the scope of Biden’s achievements, according to Chuck Rocha, a Democratic strategist and former Bernie Sanders senior campaign adviser. Better and more targeted messaging from the party will also make a difference. “They use this one-size-fits-all messaging that’s been tailored for white suburban voters that don’t work in our communities,” Rocha said.
In 2020 and 2022, big gains among suburban, college educated voters helped Democrats largely offset losses among nonwhite working class voters. The open question is whether they can stop the bleeding with voters of color to deliver another victory.
— House GOP erupts as McCarthy fails to move Pentagon bill: Speaker Kevin McCarthy suffered yet another stinging defeat today, as a handful of conservatives tanked a key vote that was supposed to signal the way out of days of intraparty bickering. Instead, GOP hardliners again blockaded the floor for the second time in three days — leaving McCarthy unable to call the party’s own defense spending bill to the floor. This time, though, it came as a shock to many GOP leaders, who believed they won over enough holdouts to finally bring up the Pentagon funding bill.
— Su prevails in GOP challenge to her status as acting Labor chief: The Biden administration is not violating any federal law by allowing acting Labor Secretary Julie Su to serve indefinitely despite her stalled Senate nomination, according to a Government Accountability Office report issued today. The decision will give the department a powerful rejoinder to fight challenges to regulations the Labor Department has issued under Su’s leadership.
— Rupert Murdoch to step down as chair from Fox and News Corp. boards, hand reins to son: Fox News executive chair Rupert Murdoch will transition from his role overseeing the Fox Corporation and News Corp boards, he announced this morning. Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert’s eldest son, will serve as the sole executive at the helm of the media empire, he wrote in a note to the company’s staff. The 92-year-old businessman will stay on as chair emeritus at Fox and News, he said. Murdoch will make the final transition in November.
THE WAR ON NO LABELS — A powerful network of liberal donors is joining the push to stop No Labels’ threatened plan to launch a third-party presidential run — warning major political funders to stay away from the group.
The donors club, Democracy Alliance, shared its thinking about the bipartisan organization’s operation exclusively with POLITICO. Democrats have grown increasingly concerned that an independent No Labels ticket would function as a spoiler and help former President Donald Trump or another Republican candidate defeat President Joe Biden in 2024. Democracy Alliance also met privately Wednesday with the center-left group Third Way and progressive organization MoveOn to discuss No Labels, according to several people familiar with the event who were granted anonymity to talk about a closed-door event. Third Way and Move On normally sit on opposite ends of the Democratic Party’s spectrum, but they have teamed up recently in an aggressive effort to undercut No Labels’ floated plan.
FROZEN OUT — Two candidates who were on the stage for the first GOP debate are still shy of the thresholds needed to make the second one on Sept. 27. Both are critical of the Republican National Committee’s standards for qualification. And both are mulling what’s next if they miss out on next week’s showcase, reports NBC News.
Neither North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum nor former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has met the polling requirements needed to qualify for the debate, according to an NBC News analysis. Burgum said the national polling requirement is a “goofy clubhouse rule.”
Whether Burgum makes the debate stage or not, he intends to keep running. Hutchinson, on the other hand, says he will evaluate the situation if he misses out. “I’ll look at it and make a decision. I’ll have to talk to donors and I’ll have to talk to — look at the polling numbers that we have. So that decision will be made, but again, I expect to make it,” he said.
REDISCOVERING IOWA — It’s beginning to dawn on Donald Trump that Iowa matters, writes Karl Rove in the Wall Street Journal.
Until now it looked as if the former president was devoting more time to meeting with lawyers than engaging with voters, so his recent burst of activity in the Hawkeye State is revealing. His notoriously cheap campaign dropped $700,000 on Iowa TV last week. He finally hired a director to oversee his Iowa ground game. On Wednesday he stopped in Maquoketa and Dubuque, and he vows to return to the state four times in October. That means that over the next six weeks he’ll spend about as many days in Iowa as he has over the past nine months.cTeam Trump appears to have realized that Iowa could end the GOP nomination or set up a long battle akin to what the Democrats went through in 1984.
MIXED MESSAGES — While Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak may be paring back his green pledges, King Charles III had a different message on the global stage today, writes Andrew McDonald and Clea Caulcutt.
In a historic speech to the French Senate, the monarch said France and the U.K. must work together in order to “answer more efficiently” the challenges posed by climate change, as he talked up the “existential” importance of the issue.
His speech came less than 24 hours after U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the paring back of several policies aimed at driving down Britain’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050 — a move that was greeted with fury from opposition politicians, green activists and some business groups.
Charles, noted for his outspoken views on climate change, had already called for “fighting the scourge that is climate change” in an address at the Palace of Versailles Wednesday night. He went further today, as he addressed the French Senate in both French and English.
“Just as we stand together against military aggression [in Ukraine], so must we strive together to protect the world from our most existential challenge of all: that of global warming, climate change and the catastrophic destruction of nature,” he said.
BEHIND THE CURTAIN — How hard is it to become a reality television star? This year, when the casting process opened for the 45th season of Survivor (that’s a whole lot of seasons of TV), 25,000 people applied. It was the casting department and host Jeff Probst’s job to get it down to 18. So, just how do they do it? And what kinds of applicants stand out? Entertainment Weekly’s Dalton Ross got a look behind the curtain — at Zoom interviews, how they make their cuts and what Probst’s notes look like for a bunch of the potential contestants. It’s a fascinating look at the process, whether you think being a reality star is in your future or not.
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