Democratic data scientist warns party could be out of power for a decade

Warns that Democrats are losing non-college educated voters

Eric Garcia
Friday 08 October 2021 14:34 BST
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Democratic data analyst David Shor warned in an interview with The New York Times’ Ezra Klein that Democrats face potential catastrophe risk being out of power for a decade.

Mr Shor, who worked on the 2012 Obama campaign and now leads data science at Blue Rose Research, was fired from his job at Civis Analytics after he tweeted after the killing of George Floyd that violent protests have historically been bad for Democrats in elections.

But since then, he’s become a much-sought-after voice, particularly after Democrats underperformed with Latino voters in the 2020 presidential election.

“Obviously, in retrospect,” he told Mr Klein, “it was positive for my career.”

Mr Shor warned that his model, which he calls “the power simulator,” shows that if Democrats win 51 percent of the popular vote in 2024, they could lose seven seats and they would need to win it by at least 54 percent.

Similarly, he warned that the divide between college-educated and non-college-educated voters is becoming wider, not just among white voters but also among black and Latino voters. Mr Shor also noted that Trump was a net positive for the Republican Party.

“Sure, maybe he underperforms the generic Republican by whatever,” he said. “But he’s engineered a real and perhaps persistent bias in the Electoral College, and then when you get to the Senate, it’s so much worse.”

In addition, Mr Shor warned that fewer voters split their tickets, which is to say that fewer people who vote Republican or Democratic for president vote for the opposite party for down-ballot races.

As a result, Mr Shor told The Times that Democrats need to appeal to voters who may not be traditional liberals like the ones who traditionally donate to Democratic campaigns or staff them and in turn, should do polling to figure out the most popular parts of their agenda and weed out the unpopular parts.

“Traditional diversity and inclusion is super important, but polling is one of the only tools we have to step outside of ourselves and see what the median voter actually thinks,” he said.

The concept has now developed the term “popularism.”

“I think the core problem with the Democratic Party is that the people who run and staff the Democratic Party are much more educated and ideologically liberal and they live in cities, and ultimately our candidate pool reflects that,” he said.

At the same time, Mr Shor said this does not mean abandoning all progressive or liberal ideas, since polling shows letting Medicare negotiate drug prices is incredibly popular, despite moderate Democrats like Sen Kyrsten Sinema’s protests. He also added that the party doesn’t represent the nation at a mass level.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the people we’ve lost are likely to be low-socioeconomic-status people,” he said. “If you look inside the Democratic Party, there are three times more moderate or conservative nonwhite people than very liberal white people, but very liberal white people are infinitely more represented. That’s morally bad, but it also means eventually they’ll leave.”

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