Michael Lux

Nov. 1 and 3, 2022

Follow-up memo to reporters and commentators
From: Mike Lux
Re: Democratic chances in the 2022 election
Date: November 3, 2022
I wanted to follow-up with my reporter and commentator friends on the memo I sent out a couple of days ago, which I included here below.
I continue to get two kinds of news in the numbers I am seeing: one is really extraordinary early vote numbers, where the turnout is higher than in 2018 and the modeled Democratic-ness of the voters coming out is better than either 2018 or 2020. The other is polling, which shows the same thing it has been showing for months now, that the generic ballot and individual battleground races are pretty much all within the margin of error. There’s even a new Navigator poll out showing a 3-point lead in the generic ballot and a modest move toward Democrats among Independent voters.
But I am seeing little of this good news for Democrats, or even neutral news, breaking through from journalists. Here are some examples of the kind of stories journalists have been telling instead:
  • The Sunday before last, Chuck Todd opened Meet The Press with a new poll by NBC News that showed Democrats up 47-46 in its generic poll. Given all the conventional wisdom about Democratic collapse, you would think that with a poll showing us ahead Chuck would have led with “Democrats are doing better than many commentators expect” or “Democrats may beat expectations and have a real shot in the election.” Instead, Chuck led with all the reasons the poll might be wrong and why the Democrats would still lose.
  • There was an October 27 New York Times article with the quintessential opening quote summarizing the strange mindset of journalists now:
"President Biden is unpopular everywhere. Economic concerns are mounting. Abortion rights are popular but social issues are more often secondary.
A new series of House polls by The New York Times and Siena College across four archetypal swing districts offers fresh evidence that Republicans are poised to retake Congress this fall as the party dominated among voters who care most about the economy.
Democrats continue to show resilience in places where abortion is still high on the minds of voters, and where popular incumbents are on the ballot. Indeed, the Democrats were still tied or ahead in all four districts…"
So let me get this straight: in four of the closest swing races the NYT picked out to summarize this year’s House midterms, Dems are ahead or tied in all of them, therefore the Dems are going to lose?
There is example after example of this kind of dynamic going on. Journalists have a responsibility to break out of their conventional wisdom bubble and have some kind of reasonable balance in their reporting.
Read the first in this series below...

Memo to political reporters and commentators

From: Mike Lux
Re: Democratic chances in the 2022 election
Date: November 1, 2022

I appreciate the hard work political journalists are doing in the lead-up to Election Day, and the role you play in trying to keep the American public informed.

But having been in DC for 30 years now, I know there is a tendency for a certain kind of conventional wisdom to develop and congeal into a bubble as hard as rock, and I would note that this conventional wisdom is often wrong. I certainly don’t get things right all the time, but I was one of the few in DC who predicted the Dems would pick up seats in the 1998 election, that we would win both the House and Senate back in 2006, and that Trump was probably going to win in 2016, so I have real life experience with the conventional wisdom being wrong.

I think it is wrong this year, and I want to push DC reporters and pundits in this last week of the cycle to take a close look at your assumptions and data, and really consider that you might be wrong.

I’m not making this point so that you all look wiser by hedging your bets. I think it is important to say that the narrative you are have decided on is both discouraging voting, and is setting up Republicans to say the election is stolen if Democrats do better than you all are projecting. I am pushing back here both for the sake of Democrats and for democracy.

So let’s talk for a moment about what we are seeing in the field. I am not going to geek out here and drop a bunch of numbers on you because I want to keep this brief and there are plenty of people like Simon Rosenberg, Tom Bonier at TargetSmart, and Mike Podhorzer who have been doing this analysis, but all the evidence is that voting is going to be at record levels for a midterm, matching or exceeding 2018. And yes, Republicans are turning out in big numbers, but that was also true in 2018 and 2020, and Democrats still won. Democrats tend to do well in high turnout elections: the most dramatic bumps in voting in recent history were 2008, 2018, and 2020 -- three Democratic wins. There are simply more Democratic voters than Republican voters and when everyone votes in big numbers, we are likely to win.

I would add that there is not any evidence I am seeing that Republicans are voting at higher rates than Democrats. Democratic leaning groups, including African-Americans and women, are voting in high numbers compared to even 2018. According to the groups who track youth voting most closely, youth voting will very likely be above 2018 numbers.

Let me turn to the polling issue. I hope you all saw the Joy Reid clip last night where Simon Rosenberg was talking about how Republican pollsters have flooded the zone in battleground states with publicly released polls. They are skewing the numbers in these polls because most of those polls have turnout assumptions favoring more Republican voters. But even with that skewed data, what the polls are showing is closely contested races in battleground House and Senate. The nationwide generic ballot has remained within the margin of error for months, contradicting the idea of a Democratic collapse.

I would also note that in the 21 races thought to be the closest toss-ups, according to the most recent public polling, the Democratic candidate leads in 17 of them, is tied in two others, and is behind in only two. In seven of those races, the margin is five points or more. Again, this doesn’t seem like a collapse to me.

It is true that Republican super PACs are spending a lot of money in normally safe Democratic districts. That isn’t because most of those districts are places where we are in trouble: it is because they have a lot more money from billionaires, and they want to keep the DCCC playing defense where they shouldn’t have to do so. It’s smart strategy, but evidence of nothing except their enormous amounts of billionaire cash.

My partner Bob Creamer just released this video talking about the early vote and the evidence on why Democrats are going to surprise a lot of people. I know that in the days to come we will see more evidence that Democrats have a real chance to win this election. My ask to the reporters and pundits is that they pay attention to the evidence and leaven their gloom and doom for Democrats narrative with some facts that suggest the conventional wisdom just might be wrong.