Why Nate Silver’s Numbers Are Good News For Democrats

Nate Silver, New York Times blogger and statistician


Statistical wunderkind Nate Silver may be on the cautious side of predicting a Republican takeover of the Senate come November (and there’s been a lot of overreacting on both sides of the aisle to the March 23 FiveThirtyEight blog post), but it’s helpful these days to be a longterm strategist. That may not always be an asset within today’s 24/7, reactionary, attention deficient political and media paradigms. However if one is able, even for a moment, to see 2014’s bizarrely stagnant, bipolar and toxic sociopolitical atmosphere for what it really is, it’s a lot easier to relax into a zen-like embrace of the old adage, “this too shall pass.”

The electorate is morphing, growing more socially liberal in particular, at a magnificent clip. Both parties are keenly aware of that fact. And nowhere is the transition more evident than among the youth demographic.

Gallup released poll results last week, interpreted in an article entitled, Young Americans’ Affinity for Democratic Party Has Grown. The piece opens by observing, “Young adults — those between the ages of 18 and 29 — have typically aligned themselves with the Democratic Party, but they have become substantially more likely to do so since 2006…Since 2006, the average gap in favor of the Democratic Party among young adults has been 18 percentage points, 54% to 36%.”

Meanwhile, over in Baby Boomer county, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow observes in his March 28 writing, The Split of the Ages: “Until the age of Obama, Democrats had an ideological leg up among Americans 65 and older. Then those voters shifted to give the Republicans an advantage. That advantage has held, although it’s shrinking.”

Blow’s comments reflect good reason for Senate Democrats to be concerned this year. As the Daily Kos writers remarked last fall, Democrats’ biggest challenge is getting their base voters to vote in a midterm election. And if a strong enough contingent of the older, white, conservative voters who comprise the Republican base are mobilized to hit the ballot box, then there’s a decent chance we could end up with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Yes, I just vomited a little in my mouth). However there’s a lot of “ifs” in play here and there’s still plenty of time for left wing voters to realize what’s at stake.

And now let’s return to my proposal at the beginning of this column. Let’s try to see the 2014 midterms for what they really are, accept the possibility of a short-term hit (while doing everything we can to avert it) and smile as we consider 2016 and beyond. The soundtrack of this political year is the gasping death march of the old Mad Men world order. As Blow notes, “Part of the reason for the Democratic swing among young people is the incredible diversity of the group. Gallup estimates that 45 percent of Americans 18-29 are nonwhite.” As Americans evolve into a more ethnically and racially disparate population, the “white man is grand” policies of the GOP become progressively alienating.

But here. HERE is where the blood of the Koch Brothers and others of their election purchasing ilk must run especially cold. Toward the middle of the Gallup piece, writer Jeffrey M. Jones concludes:

“But young adults are not more Democratic solely because they are more racially diverse. In recent years, young white adults, who previously aligned more with the Republican Party, have shifted Democratic. From 1995 to 2005, young whites consistently identified as or leaned Republican rather than Democratic, by an average of eight points. Since 2006, whites aged 18 to 29 have shown at least a slight Democratic preference in all but one year, with an average advantage of three points.”

Cold, hard statistics. Not opinion, although we know the Republican party struggles to embrace science and facts in the modern era. But not all right wing pundits will afford themselves the luxury of denial. In his own weekend column, The Christian Penumbra, New York Times conservative Ross Douthat takes a look at the unholy relationship between Deep Southern traditional religious values and poverty. He notes, “some of the most religious areas of the country — the Bible Belt, the deepest South — struggle mightily with poverty, poor health, political corruption and social disarray.”

While the piece goes on to argue that full engagement in a religious institution rather than nominal belief is the cure for this disparity, Douthat can’t be encouraged by recent studies concluding that Americans are less religious than ever before. And as voters drift away from dogmatic Christianity, away from consigned racism and homophobia and toward recognition that the oligarchs are running the show, rejection of socially stunted, corporate protectionist policies is a natural outcome.

I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated by the President’s low approval ratings. I’m frustrated that Democrats seem to be on the defensive nationally against a party with no platform. But we have time and Silver’s projected 10 percentage point likelihood is hardly insurmountable. But it’s the long run where Republicans are at the disadvantage. It’s all in the numbers.


15 Replies to “Why Nate Silver’s Numbers Are Good News For Democrats”

  1. The problem with future predictions are that they are based on past performance. Mathematically your predictions maybe be correct if you are looking at sporting event. It relies almost completely on numbers. The outcome of some games aren’t even in doubt. You’re simply betting on the point spread.

    In politics I feel numbers are not of significance. The variable here is why people vote. Other than those like us who actively seek out information the average voter does not give much thought as to the issues of the day.

    Republicans vote because of the “do what you’re told mentality, and fear instilled in them that society is falling apart. They turn out like faithful little soldiers.

    Democrats vote out of frustration. When things finally get to the point of being intolerable they vote. This is the mindset that needs to be broken. Instead Democrats need to be proactive.

  2. I totally agree with you, Phil. It shouldn’t take being driven to the point of intolerance to get one to do what should be an obligation. It should be a step toward helping to create the kind of country one wants to live in, whether the election is local, state, or federal. That’s what makes voting an obligation as well as a right. Another mindset that needs to be broken is the idea that only the presidential election matters. With 5 years of obstructionist Republicans and 3 of nihilistic Teabaggers in Congress, as well as in gubernatorial and local positions, their destructive influence should put that mindset to rest permanently. I have noticed that in previous off-year elections, people from the party that’s opposite to the sitting president’s have been elected and come to dominate Congress. That’s certainly true of 2010, although I firmly believe that the apathy and/or disappointment among Democrats induced many not to vote at all. 2014 needs to mark a change.

  3. The truth is that it’s just too early to know. I remember in late 2003 early 2004 my friend with dual citizenship telling me that Howard Dean was a shoe-in. She had immigrated from France around 2000, and this was her first election cycle that she had entirely lived through. I told her again and again that something would happen, and you CAN’T know who will win elections months and months in advance. Somehow, someone would come up with something that would stop the momentum before the election.

    The same can be applied in all of the midterm races being discussed here. We can discuss trends, but it’s just too early.

  4. I agree that it’s too early to tell, and I know that a lot can happen in the coming months. However, even the remote possibility that Republicans can take over the Senate or maintain their control of the House should be more than enough motivation for us Democrats to get off our collective behinds and VOTE like our lives depend on it, because ultimately they do. The destructiveness of the modern GOP, which has been amply proven during the last 5 years, is no joke. That’s why complacency is not a luxury we can afford, no matter what predictions are out there. Neither is voter apathy, which would doom us to even more of what we’ve been dealing with since 2011 with the elections of Teabaggers.

  5. It is too bad that we have a citizenry that is so uninformed regarding if John McCain was elected where would this country be now? Of if Al Gore was elected not George Bush. I maybe one of the few democrats who realize what Obama had to deal with coming into office, the world falling apart, being black, being hated, having no cooperation from the Republicans, a whole gigantic world collapsing, corrupt and hateful. 50 million people without health care or under insured, losing jobs and homes and 2 unnecessary wars despicably and incompetent, corrupt wars that anyone with an ounce of sense knew would not end the hate between Shiites and Sunnis.

  6. DEMOCRATS/Independents and “all” Fair-minded Voters…

    IF the thought of your Children’s Grandchildren’s Children being raised up under the CONFEDERATE FAG is NOT enough for you to go VOTE these Tea Party CONserative Republican (Republicans?) Extremist OUT OF OFFICE, then America will deserve what it gets!!!

    Because, this Tea Party Crowd has already proved they are about “hook and/or crook” and if “fair-minded” VOTERS are foolish enough to let them (take) control of the SENATE (allready contol the HOUSE, dominate our U. S. Supreme Court) “THE SOUTH WILL RISEN AGAIN” without ever having to fire a “SHOT” and without making the same mistakes of the “previous” CIVIL WAR! Winning is WINNING!!!

    Controlling 2 of 3 (Congress & The U. S. Supreme Court) Branches of our Government & able to OVERRIDE Veto’s regardless of the President IS “WIN” Baby!!!


    VOTE! VOTE!! VOTE!!!

    “0” + (hu) MAN

  7. Why can’t we rate comments anymore? Could one of the moderators please tell me? I have asked this question before and it never posted. Please just tell me the rationale behind the decision to eliminate rating comments, I’m curious.

  8. Now is the time. Time for what you ask? Simple make your plans to help all those around you to VOTE. See what a lot of people do is beg and plead for people to vote. Instead it is time for the facts. They are hard and cold and short to the point. Either you vote and support all you know to vote. No matter how long voting takes or how inconvenient the GOP has made it for you. You need to VOTE.
    Not showing up to vote is supporting the GOP and all of their policies. It is that simple! All of your complaining about the GOP means NOTHING if you do not stand up against them in each and every election! This is the key fact it is called consequences for choices folks and they are harsh and real.

  9. NOTE: This a corrected (Flag instead Fag was intended) and enhanced copy of the Lenard Earl post above!

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Lenard Earl>
    Date: Sun, Mar 30, 2014 at 11:08 AM
    Subject: “IF” the thought of your Children’s Grandchildren’s Children being raised up under the CONFEDERATE FLAG is NOT…
    To: Distribution List (33)


    DEMOCRATS/Independents/Others including “all” Fair-minded Republican Voters…

    “IF” the thought of your Children’s Grandchildren’s Children being raised up under the CONFEDERATE FLAG is NOT enough for you to go VOTE these Tea Party CONservative Republican Extremist OUT OF OFFICE, then America will deserve what it gets!!!

    THINK about this, if due to Democrats’ (others?) failure to turnout to VOTE in upcoming/ “all” FUTURE ELECTIONS deliver(s) the SENATE to the Ultra-Right CONservative Republicans (Republicans?) and they should happen to…

  10. Republicans are very worried Dems will vote in droves. Let’s prove them right!

    Contact all your friends and family members, make sure they’re Registered and fired-up to vote this November!

  11. And with Harry Reid’s nuclear option remaining in place, the minority party no longer has the ability to filibuster. The Democrats are now about to reap the bitter harvest they have sown.

  12. Wrong. They can still filibuster major bills. The gop is about to reap the bitter harvest they have sown. Having done exactly nothing for this country since 2008 they will dissappear

  13. It’s simple. Being a 29 year old myself, I can tell you the right lost me when they decided to steak their own political career on running my elected president into the ground solely for political gain. It has killed me to see the man I elected to get the things done he promised be thwarted at every turn by petty political games reserved for a kindergarten playground. I actually voted Republican once, but they have guaranteed I will never vote Republican again. As of now, the Democrats will have my vote for a long time.

  14. Since we elected him TWICE, you may not be alone in understanding both what the President has endured, handled, and rectified but what our nation has faced as well. The faux Left is irrelevant since they fail to read anything but their own hype. The majority of us actually do understand.

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