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1992 Rhode Island gubernatorial election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1992 Rhode Island gubernatorial election

← 1990 November 3, 1992 1994 →
Bruce Sundlun.jpg
Nominee Bruce Sundlun Elizabeth A. Leonard
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 261,484 145,590
Percentage 61.55% 34.27%

Rhode Island gubernatorial election, 1992 results by municipality.svg

Governor before election

Bruce Sundlun

Elected Governor

Bruce Sundlun

The 1992 Rhode Island gubernatorial election was held on November 3, 1992. Incumbent Democrat Bruce Sundlun defeated Republican nominee Elizabeth A. Leonard with 61.55% of the vote.

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  • ✪ The Meaning of the Midterms: Who Counted? Who Voted? || Radcliffe Institute
  • ✪ Jeff Weaver – How Bernie Won


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Good afternoon. I'm Tomiko Brown-Nagin, the dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. I'm delighted to welcome all of you to today's panel discussion on the 2018 midterm elections. This program is part of the Davis Lecture series, established by Kim and Judy Davis, to feature leading thinkers and artists in public talks. I'm glad to see Kim Davis in the audience. Thank you for your support, as always. I'm also grateful to members of the Radcliffe Institute Leadership Society, and to all of our dedicated annual donors who are here this afternoon. Thank you very much. Today, we're exactly four weeks out from the most anticipated midterm elections in recent memory. The stakes were high. Besides all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, the polls decided 35 seats in the Senate, governorships in 36 states, ballot measures in 37 states, and thousands of state legislative seats and local races. The outcomes of the midterms has a bearing on political representation, on policy, on many facets of daily life and local communities, and on the civic climate and the political landscape of our nation at large. While the results are in, with a few exceptions-- [CHUCKLING] Yes. Answers to some of the big questions will take time to emerge. Questions like, what do the midterms mean for American politics, for American society? What do they mean for policy in the immediate term, and for years to come? Was the election a turning point? Put another way, to what extent and in what areas do these midterms tell a story of fundamental change, or a story of continuity? Our speakers this afternoon will explore some of these questions, and many other questions, as they put the midterm results in context. They'll also focus our attention on the roles of new voters, and the results for candidates and elected officials from historically underrepresented groups, including women, people of color, religious minorities, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community. We do know that history was made in many races. In House contest, an unprecedented number of women ran, and they won. Come January, for the first time in history, the house will have more than 100 women representatives. Yes. [APPLAUSE] And yet, men still outnumber women in Congress by a 3 to 1 ratio. Many of the House races were historic from an intersectional perspective. Among the 40 or so women who will take their seats in the House of Representatives for the first time in January are the first two Native women elected to Congress, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, the first two Latinas elected to Congress from Texas, the first openly gay representative of Kansas, and the first African-American woman to represent the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. You can applaud for that too. [APPLAUSE] Beyond the House of Representatives, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi became the first women elected to represent their states in the US Senate. And Jared Polis of Colorado became the country's first openly gay governor, as well as the first Jewish governor of a state. In Florida, voters approved a ballot initiative that restores the right to vote to more than 1 million Floridians with prior felony convictions. - Woo! - Yes. [APPLAUSE] But the story, as ever, is complex. At the same time as we witness historic wins and the restoration of voting rights to some, voters in North Carolina and Arkansas passed constitutional amendments that will require photo IDs in order to cast ballots in future elections. Thus, we saw both expansion and contraction of the franchise. Historic firsts are important for a diverse and representative democracy, even though we know that firsts are not sufficient to undo gender and racial disparities, wealth inequality, voter suppression, and the many systemic barriers to achieving opportunity and justice. Thus, the celebration of firsts only scratches the surface of today's ambitious topic, the meaning of the midterms. In a moment, I'll turn things over to Asma Khalid, who I'm delighted to have here today as our moderator. Asma is a political reporter for NPR. She is known for clear, sensitive, and insightful reporting on American voters and the shifting political landscape in the US through the lenses of demographics and economics. In recent months, weeks, and days, Asma has brought that expertise and insight to the 2018 midterms. She also covered the 2016 presidential campaign for NPR. Before that, Asma covered tech, business, and economic issues here in Boston at WBUR. Asma got her start in journalism in her home state of Indiana. She decided to become a reporter when she was just seven years old. Among many honors, Asma received the University of Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism just last year. I'm grateful to her for joining us, and she'll introduce the panel. Thank you all for being here, and I hope to see you at Radcliffe again soon. If you're interested in continuing to explore contemporary politics, you can join us next week on Wednesday, December 12 at 4:00 PM for a talk by Radcliffe Fellow and Yale Professor Jacob Hacker on right-wing populism in the US. And now, please join me in warmly welcoming Asma Khalid to the stage. [APPLAUSE] - So thank you all so much for coming. It's such a delight to see so many people who are still excited to talk about the midterms, because, candidly, I think some of us feel like we've been in this rut of reporting on the midterms for so many months. But I think there are still lots of lessons to learn from what happened in 2018 that might give us a glimpse into what we can try to decipher about the next presidential election in 2020. So thank you again. My name is Asma Khalid, and I'm a political reporter with National Public Radio. During the campaign cycle that just passed, I was one of our chief political correspondents. And that meant I traveled across the country, criss-crossing the country many places, trying to figure out what was motivating voters, and what was also motivating some of the candidates that those voters were selecting. For me, as a reporter who focuses a lot on voters and demographics, I just want to quickly give us a sense of three big takeaways. And then I will introduce our panel, who will talk in a lot more depth about all of this. So the three big, what I would call essential takeaways of the midterms was, number one, voter turnout was up. We really reached, actually, rather historic levels of turnout this election cycle that we had not seen since World War II. Still, though, a majority of eligible voters did not vote. And when you say that in slow language, you're like, wow, a majority of the eligible voting population did not vote. I think what we want to focus on lessons learned from what this might mean-- because we did have some Democratic candidates, particularly in Georgia and in Texas, who really tried to galvanize these non-traditional voters in a midterm election cycle. And undoubtedly, you're going to see Democratic candidates in 2020 also try to mobilize this base of the Democratic Party. Number two, we saw an increasing split along education lines. Among the 15 most highly-educated congressional districts in the country-- including yours truly, this district right here that we all live in-- not one is currently represented or will be currently represented in the new Congress by a Republican. What I find rather astounding about all of this is, we don't need to go very far back-- we could go just to the '90s-- and we had many of these highly-educated districts represented by Republicans at a time when George HW Bush was the Republican Party standard-bearer. But as I said, two districts in particular-- a suburban district outside of Georgia, and another suburban district in northern Virginia-- which had been represented by Republicans now will be both represented by Democrats. And to me, this is a really interesting new change that we saw that may give us a glimpse, again, into 2020. And lastly, as the dean just mentioned, this was undoubtedly a huge year for Democratic women. And I'm sure that we will talk a lot more about this, and what this means, but there were really women that I met throughout my reporting cycle this year who told me they had never been involved in a campaign cycle prior to 2018. They were now knocking on doors. They were volunteering for candidates. And these were women who, prior to this election cycle, perhaps may have just voted. That was the extent of their political engagement. So we're going to talk a lot more about all of this, and many other, also, lessons that all of our panelists have. And to help us do that, we've got a panel that I just want to quickly introduce. Immediately to my left here is Aimee Allison. She's the president of Democracy in Color, a really interesting organization. Aimee and I candidly actually have spoken on the phone a couple of times in my reporting, but just now had the opportunity to meet in person. Then we have Sarah Lenti, who's a board member of Serve America Movement and a political consultant to what I believe is center-right Republicans at this point. Then we have Katharine Cramer, who's a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the author of a book that you all might be familiar with called The Politics of Resentment, which was about politics in rural areas of Wisconsin. And then all the way down to our left, we have Robert Self, a professor of American history at Brown University. So I will let the panelists kick it off, and we'll begin with Aimee Allison. [APPLAUSE] - Yay. Good afternoon, everyone. It's such a pleasure to be here, and thank you so much for the organizers, dean, the professors, and for the community, for welcoming this conversation, I just want to say one thing. Women of color won the midterms. [APPLAUSE] I wrote an op-ed a week and a half ago in the San Francisco Chronicle, where I come from, making that assertion. But before that-- long before that-- the story, for me, about women of color begins a year and a half ago. I was there in Albany, Georgia when Stacey Abrams declared her candidacy for governor. She would be the first black woman governor ever in our history, and certainly in the Deep South. Her campaign was exciting from the get-go. Here was a woman who was a fantastic leader. She was a woman who was already a House leader, Democrats, the House minority leader, with a broad-based social justice, progressive agenda. She also recognized something about Georgia that most Democrats and the public at large did not know. That Georgia, in a couple of years, will be majority people of color. It wasn't just a black-and-white state. It was a rainbow there in Georgia. And that 40% of registered Democrats were black women. She recognized black women were the core and the most loyal and important voting bloc of the Democratic Party. She recognized something else too. Even though white Democrats-- including Jason Carter, President Jimmy Carter's grandson-- had run for statewide office, he was only able to capture 23% of the white vote in that state. Many of these Democrats ran on a very moderate, centrist agenda, and yet they were never able to win. In the last 10 years, there hasn't been a statewide victory of Democrats in Georgia. And yet Stacey Abrams knew something else. She looked at the electorate, and she recognized that there were 1.2 million eligible unregistered people of color, not just in Atlanta, but throughout the state, including the rural part of southern Georgia, known as the Black Belt. When she declared her candidacy in southern Georgia, she was making a statement right from the Black Belt, which was this. Instead of stacking millions like most gubernatorial candidates, right away, she had two dozen organizers going on every part of the state, rural, suburban, and urban, registering and talking to voters. Now, the Democratic Party, of which she helped by expanding the electorate in her time before she declared candidacy by founding this organization called the New Georgia Project that was registering new voters. But the Democratic Party did not believe a black woman could win. And so they cynically recruited a white moderate millionaire married woman named Stacey Evans to run in the primary against Stacey Abrams. Now, the party believed that the most important voters to win were moderate white voters in Georgia. And so Stacey Abrams reached out specifically to all these different communities, and at the end of the primary-- which resulted in a landslide where she won all but four counties throughout the state-- the turnout for black women was through the roof, for black voters. But the Latina turnout-- Latinx turnout-- was up three times, and the Asian-American turnout was up six times over the last midterms. So what I argued was that Stacey Abrams knew something the Democratic Party needed to learn. It was a new playbook that recognized who is in the party. That the party nationally was half people of color and a quarter black. And that black women and women of color were the most progressive at the polls. They were also the most likely to be primaried by people in their own party, and they were also those who were promoting the strongest social justice, racial, economic justice agenda in this country. And on top of that, women of color were the best strategists for this new playbook of expanding the electorate. Now, I've been in politics a number of years, and I've seen a lot of campaigns. And the big mistake that I believe happened that we saw with the Clinton campaign in 2016 that Stacey Abrams was attempting to correct in the midterms was deeply investing in the most progressive voters and expanding the electorate. Instead of spending millions on TV ads-- which, by the way, don't get people to the polls-- she was investing on the ground, people knocking on doors, and meeting people where they were. Now, you might have read that it didn't work out with the prize for Stacey Abrams. At the time, as a longtime consultant in her campaign, who spent a lot of time in Georgia with her campaign and got to see what it was like on the ground, the voter suppression, the way that, institutionally, she ran against an opponent, it's like playing a football game where your opponent is the referee. And she had to face an insurmountable series of voter suppression techniques, and ultimately wasn't able to gain the prize as the first black woman. But she cracked the code. Originally thought, hey, I need a little over 200,000 additional Democratic Party votes in order to win the state, and she delivered 800,000 additional. So what's happened? It's amazing what she did. So you can lose and win. Because if we look at the lesson for the midterms, when it comes to Stacey Abrams, you see how close the Democrats got to capturing the big prize despite the challenges. So when I say women of color won the midterms, it's not just the incredible firsts of the new members of Congress, the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-- who's very cool on Instagram, if you're not following her stories-- who's opening up, and really, for the country to see, what is it like to be on-boarded as a new Congress person? What's it like for her? And she is making it more accessible as the youngest member of Congress ever, the political process. It's not just Deb Haaland from New Mexico, or Rashida Tlaib from Michigan. It's that all of these women, after 2016, decided to serve. They were coming from movements, and not one of them was backed in the primary by the Democratic Party, like Stacey. Right here in your own home state, Ayanna Presley, incoming Congresswoman. The thing that people don't understand about her and her leadership is that she inspired a whole new set of voters. 52% of the people who voted for Ayanna Presley were new voters. So what we're seeing, and one of the lessons that I desperately need people to understand, particularly around the Democratic Party and why there was such success at the polls when there hadn't been in 2016 and years past. We're at an inflection point in this country. We're almost majority of people of color. And as I said with a group of students earlier today, there's no majority, and there's no minority. And the primacy of voters, who is invested in, what the candidates look like, what the issues they carry, need to change in order to inspire the population of our country as is. And that future is multiracial. And women of color are at the leading edge of inspiring a multiracial coalition that I believe will win in 2020. Now, today in Politico, there was an article, the first one that acknowledged that women-- black women in particular-- will be the main vote picking the presidential primary candidate. And that was never acknowledged before. So I founded She the People earlier this year as the first-ever organization focused on solidifying the political voice of women of color as voters, as leaders, as movement leaders, and as strategists who are defending democracy and providing a really inspiring solution for the country. And in my last, I had a big summit that brought together 600 women in San Francisco, 100,000 on livestream, and some really great women on stage. A woman named Elmaz Abinader wrote a poem. She called it "Anthem for Now," and I'll read two stanzas. "Hear this. Country, you do not need a telescope to find us. Stars are among you. Shift your eyes from the corridors to the sky, from the sky to the home, from the home to the field, from the field to the classroom, hospital, factory floor, and street corner. Hear this. We are the voiceless, and we will be heard. Not as a song to entertain you, not as a rule to be followed, or a call to dinner. We call on you to listen to the voices that stream in from embattled countries and towns with names hard to pronounce and ways you do not see on TV. The world inside and beside me are one. Change starts when you listen to the heart." So I'd finally say, women of color who showed such incredible power at the polls in the midterms I believe will lead, because they're leading with love and justice, to create a country of belonging. And that's what we so desperately need. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] - Great presentation. Thank you. OK. It's great to be here with you today. I want to take this time to forecast a little upon what the midterm results may mean for President Trump, the GOP, and 2020. Why the GOP focus? I started out in Republican politics under Condi Rice, one of the greats, and I left the party in 2016 because of the obvious. As such, I'm keenly interested in what's happening to the GOP, so let's review. The GOP lost the midterms by roughly 9%. 2018 goes down as the highest midterm turnout in 50 years, with 49% of the voting population casting votes because they were angry and highly motivated. There were some interesting results across the states that I quickly want to review, because I think it reflects on the president. Consider that in Iowa, during 2016, there wasn't a day when Trump wasn't ahead in the polls. On November 6, the GOP lost three of four congressional seats in that state. Pennsylvania. In 2016, Trump won with 44,000 votes. The midterms came. The GOP lost four congressional seats. In 2016, in Arizona, Trump won by 91,000 votes. The midterms came. The GOP lost a Senate seat and a Congressional seat. And that was not supposed to happen, by the GOP's terms. So the GOP suffered major losses across the country this cycle, and particularly in the suburbs with women. With that said, we learned some things about the increasing Trumpification of the Republican base. Let's look at the shifting ideology and rhetoric of the GOP first. Russia. Since when have conservative Republicans advocated for a softer approach to Putin or Russia itself? Yeah, I studied this in graduate school, and it's not in my lifetime. So immigration. Republicans went from advocating for comprehensive immigration reform under George W. Bush to now supporting a massive wall and being OK with family separation at the border. What about the base's new take on trade? These new and shifting ideologies are a reflection of the president himself. Some would argue that the pro-Trump Republican base isn't growing. This may be the case, but I would argue that it's hardening, and we know this from the midterms. That is, Republicans who chose not to align with President Trump in 2018 lost in places that were Republican strongholds. Asma, you mentioned northern Virginia and Barbara Comstock, Virginia 10. This was a seat the Republicans held for 60 of the last 66 years. No longer. Mike Coffman, near me in Denver, Colorado. 10 years in a conservative enclave. Lost district 6. Mia Love in Utah. Need I say more? So even if the president's base is stagnant, it is also radical, and it's hardening. And what I want to convey here is that despite the fact that Democrats just won the midterms, the president could be re-elected in 2020. So what am I basing this statement on? The facts and history. Fact, the average midterm pickup for a party out of power is 33. Democrats just succeeded that. And now let's hone in on which side's won big in the last 40-plus years. Democrats in '72, '82, '06, and '08. Republicans in '94 and '10. And the result of these big midterm wins? Nothing with respect to the presidency. So let me repeat, midterm results have little to no bearing on the upcoming presidential elections. OK. So what does matter? If midterm election results are not predictive of presidential election results, what is? Historically, data shows us that approval ratings are the key indicators for incumbent presidents. And more specifically, a president or party needs to maintain a base approval rating of 40% to tip an incumbent presidential candidate toward success. And you'll see that as you move from 40% to 50%, it increases dramatically the likelihood of a win. Some of you are hearing this 40% threshold and shaking your head, thinking, this can't apply. But we have to slow down and recall that President Obama had similar numbers around his midterm elections and won. I personally entered this analysis thinking that President Trump is just too partisan for anything historic to apply, but-- and I did this with the assumption being that the more partisan the president, the closer the president's approval rating would be to zero amongst the opposing party or independents. And that's just not the case. The data shows us that even amongst the opposing party and independents, approval ratings for President Obama and President Trump with the opposing parties were similar at around 10%. And then for the opposing party, between 36% and 40% for independents. Just a snapshot of where the president was at Halloween. And then where he was at November 14. Post midterms, post the caravan, post deploying troops to the border, his numbers inched up incrementally from 41% to 43%, which, to me, was shocking. Moving on, I want to present to you a poll that was taken by the Tarrance Group. And this poll sampled 800 likely 2020 voters before and after the midterms in pivot counties across the US. The poll asked voters, if the 2020 presidential were to occur today, would you vote for President Donald Trump, the Democratic nominee, or some other candidate? The result, the president won before the midterms, and he won after the midterms. But to me, what's interesting here is the 25% bloc of voters who were either leaning towards an independent after the midterm, or undecided in their vote. Combined, this is a potentially-powerful bloc that could influence 2020. And further, we don't know how this bloc would shift the vote with the entry of a credible independent candidate that could self-fund, or that would just be funded, who's able to peel off some soft Republicans and Democrats. And most will say, this can't be done. And we can look to Perot on this. Perhaps. But there is a very specific scenario in polling that has been done suggesting that if you have extreme candidates coming out of the primary, a la Trump on the right, or progressive Sanders or Warren on the left, you have a window for a more moderate independent candidate. And I think there's some interesting data here. And this is the group of voters that went from 10% to 16% after the midterms saying that they were undecided. And I want to look at who was left feeling undecided after that vote. Southeastern and Mountain-Pacific voters, unemployed male voters, employed voters, male college graduates, soft GOP, unmarried men, dads, single women, and the 55-and-over group. So we know a lot about the post-midterm analysis. And Aimee, you focused on the women demographic, and it is critical. I totally agree. But we have to be honest. Some of this data suggests that the male vote is something that we have to contend with, and continue to contend with as well. Quickly, I just want to touch on a few things, on the issues. It was surprising in this election cycle. It was health care and immigration. And probably not a surprise, Democrats carried with the health care narrative. President Trump was forcing the immigration debate. But one thing that Democrats, Republicans, and independents are in solid agreement upon was this. The political system is broken. And that extends beyond the presidency. It touches the primary system, how Congress functions, dark money in politics, and government writ large. And the main takeaway from some polling that Ipsos-- a research firm-- did was that, in this election, restoring trust and civility was a far greater importance than the issues itself. So why are we desirous of trust and civility? Because today, the trust in our political parties is at 18%. We are experiencing increased tribalization. This graphic depicts where the two parties and independents are on perhaps the most contentious and polarizing issue from 1972 to today, abortion. Over time, there were moments when the groups were closer together. But today, they're farther apart than we've ever seen. Finally, what does this tribalization mean for people and for our own relationships? I think we all have anecdotes where people have defriended people because of what they're saying about this party or the other. There was a poll conducted in August of 2017 asking people from the two parties who they consider to be a real American. And sadly, today, we're so polarized that Democrats and Republicans are increasingly prone to not view each other as, quote-unquote, real Americans. And if you believe that immigration should be restricted, you're not a real American to some. And if you believe that black lives matter, you're not a real American to some. To me, this is not only sad, it's dangerous, and it begs for a unifier who can restore trust and civility. And so that's what I'm waiting for, and we'll see what happens in 2020. Sorry to depress. [APPLAUSE] - So it's my honor to be with you this afternoon, and I'm going to pick up where Sarah left off, because I share these concerns as well. And I think those results about so many people being very focused on the lack of trust and civility, and being more concerned about that than any specific issue is a really important data point that we need to pay attention to. I've been very interested in the geographic divides that we're experiencing in this country. And so my research over the past decade or so has been focused on the so-called rural versus urban divide, and so I was interested in the outcomes of these midterms with respect to that. And sure enough, we definitely saw that our bluer areas, or our more Democratic urban areas, became more Democratic, and our rural or small towns became even more Republican. That's a broad brush to paint, and really, a lot of people will point to the suburbs as the big story in this election. And that was a really interesting case in point in which we saw a deepening of divides. In other words, the suburbs kind of sorting out. And so, for example, you saw, of the 40 Democratic gains and seats in the House, most of those seats came from majority-suburban districts. And in particular, we saw white college-educated women leaning toward the Democratic Party at rates that were unusual with respect to recent elections. And so for me, the outcome of this midterm reinforces the divides that we're experiencing with respect to geography. And that's important, because it's not just a correlation. It's not just people moving to a place that corresponds with their partisanship. But instead, I've seen through my own fieldwork that, in fact, it's oftentimes a deep cultural divide in which people are making sense of politics through lenses that are rooted in their identity as a person of a certain type of place. So for example, what I heard in Wisconsin when I was doing fieldwork along the lines of inviting myself into conversations with regularly-occurring groups of people, I heard people in these smaller towns just resenting what they saw as more attention, more resources, and more respect going to the cities. And they were making those claims on the basis of people who saw themselves as small-town, or rural folks. I would say there's an upside, though, to these midterms. And that is that intense engagement that we saw in the turnouts where the turnout rates were quite astounding, as Asma was saying. And that's an upside. Any time we see more engagement in our democracy, I guess you could say is an upside. But there's a downside to that too, in that much of that engagement was driven by people feeling as though their voices were not being heard, and that politics was out of step, that the political system was broken. And so in many respects, we see a lot of different people saying that they're left out of the conversation. Feeling or expressing that their lives are very removed from the public conversation. And I'll give you one example from my fieldwork in Wisconsin. That when I go to these small towns, even groups of people who supported Donald Trump, who voted for Donald Trump, and I ask them, so which party better represents the interests of people around here? Without skipping a beat, more often than not, they say neither. Neither party represents people like me. And folks in small-town Wisconsin aren't the only ones saying that around the country. And that feeling of being removed from the public conversation is pretty important, and pretty depressing. However, at this point, I guess I would like to move my remarks from being one of an academic to one of a practitioner. Because as I, like many of you, have looked around me and thought about, how do I best use my talents at this point in time to try to make this a better democracy for all of us? By chance, I met someone who's become a dear friend and a collaborator who's with us today, Deb Roy, who's a scientist at MIT. He runs the Laboratory for Social Machines at the MIT Media Lab. And Deb and I met by chance, actually, at a conference here at Harvard. And Deb approached me and asked me about my background. And he basically said, what would it take to scale up the listening that you did so that we could better understand what people think about in the public, and so that people in the public could have a chance to listen to one another, to better understand one another? And so through a series of conversations and through working with the amazing group of people he has at his lab, the Laboratory for Social Machines, and this nonprofit organization that they've created to disseminate the great things that they create-- and that nonprofit's called Cortico-- we're starting an experiment in about a month in Madison, Wisconsin. We're running a pilot experiment of a project called the Local Voices Network in which we're drawing together small groups of people in conversations run by facilitators who are themselves volunteers from the community. And the conversation will be based on a script that we've developed over time which asks people basic open-ended questions about, what are they concerned about? What are they hopeful about? What brought them to their community? What do they want others to know about their lives? And so through the conversations themselves, people will have a chance to listen to one another. But the team at Deb's lab and at Cortico has developed a piece of hardware that will enable the facilitators to actually import comments from other conversations going on, right now, in other parts of Madison. But ideally, down the line, as we expand into other communities, from other types of places. So the facilitator will be able to stop the conversation and say, let's reflect for a moment on a bit of a conversation that took place last week in such-and-such place. And I'd like you all to think about what insights you get from hearing this person. And through those conversations, then-- which will be recorded-- there's a creation of a dashboard that will enable people to see what other people are talking about, to see the transcripts of what people said, and to hear for themselves the words of their fellow residents, whether that be right there in Madison or in other parts of the state, or in other parts of the country. And we're hoping that this is one way in which-- that we can make something different of the divides that we're experiencing. We're not naive to think that our partisan leanings are not deeply rooted. But what we're hoping for is that people have a chance to see the nuance in each other, as opposed to just seeing red, or blue, or Democrat, or Republican, or whatever divide you want to talk about. We think that there is a need for nuance, and there's a need for listening, and there's a need to recognize that there are many of us who wish to be heard. So thanks. [APPLAUSE] - Good afternoon. I am really delighted and humbled to be on this panel with Aimee, Kathy, Sarah, and Asma. I can't imagine a more insightful cohort of expert activists. My role this afternoon is to step back a bit from the 2018 midterm elections and suggest some profitable historical contexts in which we might profitably place them. And I'll offer three with no pretense of being comprehensive, but in the spirit of the session's title, "Who Counted, Who Voted." The three perspectives are, first, voter suppression and the making of an electorate. Second, gender gaps in voting. And third, coalitions and dominant political paradigms in America since the 1930s. My hope is to make one or two clear points about each of those to build on the insights of my colleagues. So first, let's talk about voter suppression and the construction of the electorate. In the simplest terms, people in the United States have fought over access to the ballot since 1787. The earliest exclusions-- perhaps too obviously-- included anyone not white, male, and property-owning. From that beginning, pushes for enfranchisement and disfranchisement came together in successive waves. Property-less white men were enfranchised in the first half of the 19th century at the same time that most states eliminated alien or non-citizen voting. The 15th Amendment enfranchised black men after the Civil War, but widespread suppression quickly followed, especially in the former Confederacy, with systematic disenfranchisement coming a few decades later. Native people were excluded explicitly from their franchise until 1924. The 19th Amendment enfranchised women by Constitutional mandate in 1920, but was silent on the forms of disfranchisement that prevented the poor and non-white from voting. A list of laws and practices running pages in length. Among those who could legally vote, some votes counted more. Until the 17th Amendment was ratified in 1913, there was no direct election of senators. Choosing them by popular vote was a democratic advancement, but it still gave the citizens of rural states disproportionate power in Congress and the Electoral College compared with their counterparts in urban states. Moreover, until the one person, one vote Supreme Court decisions of the 1960s, most states awarded rural areas significantly-disproportionate political representation in their state legislatures. The Voting Rights Act came in 1965, as you know, alongside the 14th, 15th 19th, and 26th Constitutional amendments. The 26th is the one that set the voting age at 18. The Voting Rights Act of '65 is the foundation of modern voting. But the Supreme Court's gutting of the law in the Shelby County decision in 2013 opened the door to a new generation of laws and practices aimed at targeted voter suppression, enacted almost exclusively by Republican state legislatures and states attorney general that played a major role in this election. I need not remind you that race in particular, and also age, have been central to these new efforts. The electorate is dramatically changing, as Aimee introduced this panel by suggesting. It's changing with the country's demographics. We can see this just in looking at the representation in 1992 and 2016 that I have provided here. And if we just isolate race, we can see the ways in which demographics and the voter identification are shifting dramatically. Overall, in the nation, white voters are declining dramatically as a share of the electorate. Given this history, it's not surprising that among nations with free elections, the US sits near the bottom of voter participation as a percentage of age-eligible voters. This brief history condenses into a few basic points. The electorate is not a natural or organic entity. It is brought into being by law, culture, and practice. Since 1787, struggles over who could vote and how much their vote counted have never abated. But the Shelby County decision in 2013, together with demographic changes, have intensified the politics of electoral construction and management, which we can expect to play an ever-larger role in US politics in the next few decades. If voter suppression emerged as a major tactic in the 2018 elections, let me turn to a second issue. The combined energy of several developments raised anew the question of whether and how women vote differently from men, a phenomenon simplified by journalists as the gender gap. Journalistic observations of a gender gap in voting date to 1964, the year of Lyndon Johnson's Democratic landslide. And, by the way, the last national election in which a Democratic candidate won the majority of white men. The gap was small-- the gender gap-- mostly between 5% and 10%, and always found women choosing Democratic presidential candidates at higher rates than men. It exploded in the 1990s, and with the exception of the early 2000s, has remained in the teens and 20s since then. Here's a graphic representation of that gender gap in presidential, and I believe midterm elections as well. The gap is important, and worth our attention. But as a single metric, it obscures as much as it reveals. Its pretense is that half the voting age population of a nation of more than 300 million people can be described by a single category of identity. If we disaggregated even a little, more illuminating aspects emerge. For one, the divergence of party identification between women and men is astonishingly high among people under 40. Further disaggregation here is needed by race. And as we do that, we see that African-American and Latinx women, by and large, are voting in enormous numbers and percentages for Democratic candidates in both 2016 and 2018 overwhelmingly. So if we disaggregate the gender gap by race, it's clear that it's also and importantly a racial gap. Again, this is something that Aimee stressed in her opening remarks. What can we conclude from this? Women vote in higher absolute numbers and at a higher rate than men. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, 9.9 million more women than men voted in 2016. Overall, the gender gap in voting-- with a few exceptions-- has run between 12% and 22% since 1994. Within that, there is a substantial racial gap among women, with black and Latinx voters choosing Democrats by 24 to 43 percentage points above white women. If voter suppression and the gender gap both emerged as prominent narratives in the 2014 midterms, my final historical subject did not. This is quite unlike 2018, where there was a great deal of media chatter about whether the Obama election represented an electoral realignment. But the Democratic Congressional surge of 2010, the rise of the Tea Party, and the election of Trump quieted those speculations decisively. If Obama's election did not usher in a new dominant political coalition, how do we think about our present moment? As I've argued elsewhere, we can identify three major political syntheses in the last 80 years in the United States. Two were once dominant in the sense that they shaped the terms of political contest, gave us our language of political culture, and defined the policy horizons. The third was-- and is-- powerful enough to be meaningful, but not enough to structure the political system as a whole. None of the three, at present, is ascendant. The first is what I call breadwinner liberalism, a center-left convergence of ideologies and policy around investing in the human capital of and creating a safety net for heterosexual male breadwinner nuclear families, largely-- though we should not say entirely-- exclusively white. This political synthesis emerged during the Great Depression, was primarily the work of the Democratic Party, and gave structure and content to national politics until roughly the 1970s. It was displaced by what I call breadwinner conservatism. Breadwinner conservatism was a right-wing synthesis that sometimes flirted with a center-right moderation that seized upon the heterosexual male breadwinner nuclear family, but reversed its ideological terms. The nuclear family required moral, not economic protection. Rather than providing a safety net and varied forms of economic assistance, government would secure heterosexuality and patriarchy-- again, largely white-- by defeating, containing, or limiting their alleged enemies. Civil rights, feminism, LGBT rights, and dependency. Breadwinner conservatism gave such structure and coherence to national politics that a whole wing of the Democratic Party believed its only route to power was accommodation to its terms. The transition from the first synthesis to the second was possible because a third major synthesis, itself highly fractured, produced such a dramatic rupture. We might call this simply democratic insurgency, and gathered under that umbrella the various left and progressive social movements of the 1960s and afterward, including especially those concerned with racial, gender, and sexual equity inclusion and self-determination. The democratic insurgency was and is fractious and unstable, but no more than the other two. The salient point is that none of the three syntheses seems presently capable of establishing a new dominant political paradigm. Breadwinner liberalism defined US political culture for nearly half a century. Breadwinner conservatism for slightly less time. The democratic insurgency has been effective to be sure, but it has not assembled a true national coalition and a national electoral realignment comparable to the other two. Instead, what has emerged is a fragmented electorate organized around what one historian has called a volatile center. The question remains, then-- and I will leave you with this-- whether the election cycles of 2016, 2018, and 2020 are simply another skirmish around that volatile center, or a more fundamental transformative opportunity. My hunch is that the answer to this question has a great deal to do with the direction things take in the arena of my previous two observations. Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts with you, and I look forward to the discussion. [APPLAUSE] - So thank you so much to all of you. And I think this jump-starts a really good conversation. I have a few questions, and so I'm going to spearhead a conversation amongst us first, and then afterwards, we will open it up to questions from the audience as well. So I felt like I heard different strains from all of you referring to coalitions of both the Republican and the Democratic Party. And Robert, you talked a little bit about how some of those coalitions have changed. One question I have for all of you, actually, is that, there's been a lot of talk after the 2016 election about what some folks have described as an identity crisis. That our politics is very identity-driven on both the right and the left. And I am curious what sort of consequences, good or bad, that that has as we look into 2020, if we are not really debating-- maybe we never were, but we're certainly no longer debating-- the marginal tax rate. We're debating what it means about who gets to be an American, and who gets to be a part of that. And I just want to know what effects you think that could have as we're heading into 2020. - First, let me say that there is a coalition. We call it the new America majority. Our work at Democracy in Color has taken a look at the last, really, since people of color have been transforming not only the population, but the electorate, since 1965's Voting Rights Act guaranteed the rights for many people of color coming to this country, as well as immigration reshaping the communities across the nation. We had a president, Barack Obama, who was elected and re-elected on the power of a multiracial progressive coalition. It is the majority of voters. It's 23% of all white voters and 28% of people of color. It's not everybody from every group. But because our demographics are changing, I'm arguing that, both-- what we're seeing is a fundamental realignment. When I started this conversation, I was saying that traditional political consultants valued white voters above all. But that became a limiting factor for Democrats unable to appeal and take full advantage of the changing demographics. The fact that we have a new American majority that has the power to elect Congress people, senators, and presidents, we already know. And that, in terms of the population growth, it's only going to be more so. In terms of the eligible population, it's more than just about identity. I think that we're going into a political identity that's intersectional and complex, but that we have people in this country who can have a single political identity that also allows people to come fully as themselves in their full identity. And women of color do this exceptionally well, because we, as women-- when people say women in politics, they mean white women. But we know women of color, as you were pointing out, vote significantly different based on race. We know that our race identity helps us understand the world, but that it is an intersectional identity that helps to cement a new political force. And I really reject the dismissal of people saying identity politics is bad. We all have our identities. And we, in a democracy, should be able to accommodate those and be who we are in democracy. And identity politics, that phrase itself is real ugly, because it's used to squash people who have specific kinds of identity. So as a black person, it's identity politics. But as a white person, it's just being myself. So I think that the implication for 2020 for me is that the Democrats showed that, by having both candidates and an agenda that appealed to people of different identities and new American majority that can actually win, or that came close in places like Texas, and Florida, and Arizona. Places that Trump won in the past. And this new kind of identity that's multi-modal and intersectional, I believe is going to help the Democrats to be successful in 2020. And the presidential candidate who's able to speak in that new way is the one that's going to be successful. - Just a quick clarification. I wasn't suggesting that there's no coalition, which I absolutely believe fundamentally. My point in that last section is more that, what we can think of as that democratic insurgency-- which is admittedly a very, very broad brush, and we can disaggregate that if we want. It's just-- I had 10 minutes to summarize. I'm not suggesting at all that that's not a coalition. I think what I was trying to reflect on was that, under Obama, that coalition was not powerful enough and successful enough to totally transform the political structure and implement its framework as the new framework of American politics. That's true for lots of reasons, not all of which are the fault of that coalition. Some of it's political gerrymandering, some of it's voter suppression, some of it's our internal struggles within the Democratic Party. So it was more about-- not that there isn't that coalition, which is absolutely there. It's that I don't think we've yet seen a turn where that coalition is capable of establishing a whole new paradigm of American politics. And maybe in a way, Aimee, what you're saying is, we're at a moment when that coalition is pushing to do just that. - Yeah. - Can I jump in on identity politics too? Just to say that, what I see happening is the use of identity by political actors is changing. And I think the 2018 midterms suggests that we are going to see more of that. And I say that because identity-- as Aimee was saying, we all have identities, and there's increasing evidence in political science, and in social sciences more generally, that identities are central to the way we make our votes. And oftentimes, it's not just now at this point in history that identities are driving votes, but it has been that way for some time. And in fact, there's evidence that people actually shift their policy positions to correspond with their identities. Their partisan identities, but their partisan identities being a basket of identities that fit their sense of who they are, and what's appropriate for someone like themselves. And so for me, what this suggests is that there's a huge duty on our leaders right now to make use of identities in a positive way. I may sound like a Pollyanna. It may be forever before we actually see that kind of good behavior. But what I'm saying is that identities are something that we are proud of, and ought to be. And they are who we are. They help us understand the world. They help us communicate with others. And there is room for people to be respectful of the individual identities that people have, as well as help people lead people in seeing how those identities can be woven together into something like a democracy. So I see this as a trend that we should expect to continue in terms of people using identities to divide. But what I'm hoping for, and calling for, is leaders to do something different. - Sarah, can I ask you specifically? Because a couple of political science researchers have done some work after 2016 and said that, in some ways, Donald Trump differed from some prior Republicans we saw in that he really also appealed to an identity politics. And you could point specifically to immigration. And it was very successful for him, which is in part why, in the waning days of the 2018 campaign, we saw him talk about the caravan, and the border, because he believed that those were successful strategies. - So take me back to your question. - Yeah. So I guess my question is I was asking about the consequences of identity politics as we head into 2020. - So that's a tough one for me, because I think he was also appealing to a class of people that felt like they had been spoken over in a specific income bracket. And so I feel like his win was reflective of a group of people, and it definitely did touch on immigration. But can I suggest that-- there was a study done recently, the Hidden Tribes of America, where they looked at all-- they broke up the electorate and talked about devoted conservatives, and traditional conservatives who are with Trump right now. And then your progressive activists, which are at 8% all the way over to the left. But there's a politically-disengaged, in the middle, 26%. There are moderates that are 15%, and then there are passive liberals. And there's this whole middle space of people that feel like they are not being represented by either party. And that's like 61%. So I think, rather than me talking about identity, I would like to look at this group of people that don't feel represented. And will they feel represented coming out of the primary system if you have super extremes on each side? Or is there a middle way where-- and there's several people circulating, talking about independent runs. And is there a way to do something different and meet this middle? - Do you that there is? - I do. Depending-- if it's super extreme candidates on either side. It's a very specific scenario. It would have to be a very specific scenario. - Third party. - Yeah. Not necessary third party, or just an independent candidate. Because the third party versus independent candidates, ballot access is a big deal. So it's harder to garner ballot access as a third party. It's easier to garner ballot access as a person just running as an independent. - Can I just add something? I think it's interesting to reflect on what I hear, in a way, from the panel as two different strategies. One is what I think you just articulated, Sarah, which is for politicians and political parties to think about the existing electorate, and to analyze it, and to think about how to move various pieces within that electorate around. And what I heard you, Aimee, articulating-- I think-- is a different political strategy coming out of the Abrams campaign, which is actually not to accept the electorate as it is, but to expand it dramatically, and to vastly increase the political participation of nonvoters. And those strike me as two-- I'm not sure-- complementary, not complementary, perhaps, political strategies. One accepting the existing electorate, and the other one saying, we're not going to accept that. We're going to do something different. Does that make any sense? - I think it sounds like that's exactly the conversation when you talk to, I would say, Republican and Democratic strategists. So this is the debate that people have, is can you turn out your base more effectively, or can you-- and I guess my question maybe is, if the strategy for winning is to turn your base out, you could make the argument that Donald Trump did that, and he did it very successfully in 2016. He did turn out people who had historically not voted, at least presuming that many of the people I met at his rallies were telling me the truth. They will say that they had not voted for x number of elections. But yet you also find us, as a country, I think, in a very divided space right now. And so I guess my question maybe to you all is that, even if it's electorally successful, what are the consequences of doing that? Because if you do reach out to your base and your base alone, you may win. And we saw Trump win. - I guess that the path that the-- OK. So I'm a partisan, so I'm not going to talk-- the path to victory-- the Democrats lost and lost and lost until this year partly because that there were people on the ground, mostly funded through independent efforts-- But remember, that didn't begin until Alabama. My organization was involved in funding an independent expenditure in Alabama's special election. Remember that? It was December. It was a year ago. And there was a child molester guy who was running for the GOP, disgusting dude, and then there was a not-that-inspiring Democrat running. But the Republicans had been dominating Alabama and that Senate seat for 25 years. And that's a state 24% of the population of voters were black. And the independent expenditure-- not like the Democratic Party, and certainly not like Doug Jones, the Democrat's campaign-- focused deeply on activating, speaking to, and engaging the black community driven by black women. There was a woman named DeJuana Thompson, for example, who's one of the nation's best top political strategists. No one's asking her-- people are not asking her-- - I just talked to her. - Right? Oh, except Asma. Except NPR. There's LaTosha Brown, who helped in Alabama. And they were successful winning that seat based on the premise that the way that you change the political trajectory is you expand the electorate. The Republicans-- it is very sad that we're seeing that part of their strategy is actually keeping it as is. To try to compress and suppress the number of people who participate. But the path to victory for women of color has to be through expanding the electorate, because the Democrats haven't been big backers of women of color, and we already established that women of color are the most progressive voters and leaders in the country. And so it's not like there's been great support from the Democratic Party. But it is that, because strategists like DeJuana Thompson, people like Andrea Mercado in Florida, who expanded black and brown voters in the electorate. They were aiming for 2% in the primary, and they got 5%, and then in the general, they were able to have such great turnout because of their ongoing operation that they were able to pass Amendment 4, which we mentioned earlier, restored the voting rights of people with felony records. The same thing happened in Arizona, where David Garcia was a gubernatorial candidate at the top the ticket. He didn't win, but Kyrsten Sinema won as a Democrat not because of this middle of their white voters-- the white voters didn't vote for Kyrsten Sinema. And in fact, white women mostly do not vote for white women Democratic candidates. And so Kirsten Cinema won, in the end, because of the power of the Latinx expanded electorate. So what I want to say is that that is the path forward for Democrats for sure, and for people who are progressive, to be able to bring more people in, younger people in to vote. And that will be the way that we actually turn the corner. We have an opportunity, and it could go a lot of different ways. But I think that's our bigger opportunity. - Could-- - Sure. - One of the things that I think is fascinating about what Katherine is doing, and exciting, and bridging the gap between an expanded electorate and then the current electorate is this listening. And I think, if you look at President Macron-- and his numbers aren't great right now, but he did win because he went out and he listened, and his campaign actually went out and talked to people. So I think there's something great here about what you're about to do. - Thanks. - So I want to make sure we have enough time for questions. So there is a microphone right here in the middle of the hallway, and please line up. Just two quick things in terms of asking questions. When you do ask a question, please identify who you are, just so we know who you are. And please ask a question, because otherwise I will have to cut you off. So please make sure it's a question. All right, go ahead. - Hi. My name is Heather Hendershot. I have a question for Sarah. You identified yourself as someone who had left the GOP. And certainly a lot of people have done that. And I'm wondering how that impacts how we should understand a lot of the numbers that we see when we see a poll that shows a high approval rating among Republicans for Trump. Should we be thinking, right, but pollsters are talking to people who don't identify as Republicans anymore, and that should impact how we understand the number, or do we have more people who didn't identify as Republicans before who now do because they're from the far-right, or they're populist, and that pulls them into the GOP? And I don't know if that balances out in any way. I just don't know what to make of it. - So of the numbers that I presented in particular? Or-- - I'm just-- - Are you talking about, in general, Trump's approval rating among Republicans, how accurate is that? - Yes. But any other numbers about Republican feelings about x. I'm wondering if we have to say, well, that's not-- - Is it really reflective of the Republican Party, and conservatives, and the Trumpification-- because there is that new GOP base, which I don't feel like is reflective of the Republican Party. My parents still identify as Republicans. They don't like Donald Trump. So the numbers are tough, but I think-- they're tough with the approval rating. But the approval rating numbers that I gave were nationwide. The 41% to the 43%. So I think some people-- and I think this is true of the 2016 election-- are quietly approving what he's doing, and may not be identifying that to you and me as people, but are saying, the economy's fine. Brett Kavanaugh just got nominated-- so I think there's a quiet acceptance. Does that makes sense? - Yeah. - Sadly. - I think so. Yeah. Thank you, thank you. - It's not satisfying, is it? - No. Yeah, I know. [CHUCKLING] - Hi. I'm Kathryn Sikkink, and I'm a faculty member at the Kennedy School and a Radcliffe professor. In terms of expanding the electorate, we haven't heard much about the youth vote and the college vote. And we're here on campus. And so we know that youth voters and college voters vote at some of the lowest levels of any people in the electorate. I've also heard-- but I have not had confirmed-- that there was about a 10% increase in this midterm as compared to the last midterm. So could you just tell us a little more what we know about the youth vote, and the college vote in the midterms? - Sure. To your question about the numbers, there are unconfirmed numbers at this point. I know CIRCLE over at Tufts University does really good analysis on the youth voter turnout, and did find the estimates to be about 10% higher. I think we'll get a better sense of that once the census numbers come out, which are self-reported. But overall, I feel like most people will say confidently, youth voter turnout was up. I think the conundrum people run into a little bit is-- Florida's a really good case study. I talked to both Democrats and Republicans who'll both admit and say youth voter turnout was up. But the problem is everybody's voter turnout was up. I mean, the problem for Democrats, in that situation, was that, as a result, there was expected to be a huge uptick because of the results of the school shooting at Parkland and whatnot, and they did not see that manifest itself fully in the general election. And Florida, I think, is a really good case study of that, because you have polar opposite extremes in terms of the age electorate there. - Thank you. - Hi. I'm Julio Ricardo Varela. I'm a journalist and a proud alumnus of the college of 1990. Asma, you mentioned Florida. And I'm glad, because I wanted to know, particularly from Robert and Aimee-- because the notion of the multiracial, multi-ethnic coalition, no one used Florida as an example. And actually, is Florida the national-- are we going to become Florida as a nation? And I say that because-- and I point to your side, Robert, about the Latina vote. Black women, totally Democratic. Latina women, 27% voted for Donald Trump, or voted Republican. And also, if you look at the numbers in 2016-- and Florida's the perfect case, because when you have DeSantis telling people that Gillum's going to turn Florida into Venezuela, then you have one extreme to the other, and it kind of speaks to Sarah's point too. So I'd love to hear what you guys think about Florida, because it kind of goes against the winning-is-losing type. Or what do you think? Because it's not so cut and dry. So I'm curious to-- - Can I just give you a quick summary? Just because I actually specifically looked at the Florida Latino population just a couple of weeks ago, actually, to answer that specific question. And I think that, in Florida, there were two really interesting dynamics. One is Rick Scott, who was running for the Senate seat, explicitly courted the Hispanic vote in a way that I would argue other Republicans ought to pay attention to. It was highly successful. - And the Puerto Rican vote in central Florida. - Exactly. He was doing Spanish language ads. He taught himself Spanish through an aide. So that was one factor. The other people pointed me towards is that DeSantis, who is now going to be the governor, his running mate was a very popular Cuban-American legislator, and she heavily focused on upping that population. And so as a result, I think many people thought Barack Obama did pretty well with parts of the Cuban population in Florida that seemed to revert. I don't know if revert's the right-- because who knows? Maybe these were different Cuban voters. It was an older electorate. But I think that that's a really good question, because it showed, to me, inroads that Republicans have been able to make in that state. But please-- - I'm curious what you guys have about this. Thank you. - Yeah. I will say-- when you say, is the country become-- there's no monolith among Latinos. I don't have to tell you that. - [INAUDIBLE] [CHUCKLING] - What the strategists need to know about what motivates Puerto Rican voters-- 200,000 additional were added to the voter rolls since the hurricane-- is different from Tejanos, different from Mexicanos, different from people from Colombia or Central America. It's different. Dominicans. So there's no monolith. And before Trump came along, the GOP was actually making some significant inroads, and had funded programs where we had people in the center of the highest population-- Latinos in Texas, and in Arizona, New Mexico, and California-- where they were running voter engagement, because every day, in California, 7,000 Latinos become eligible to vote. 18-year-olds. It's a number that the GOP, at one point, was deeply invested and speaking to. And then Trump came along. And Trump messed up-- despite what happened in Florida, Trump messed up the GOP plans to really engage and bring it. So in Florida specifically, the GOP has won by 1%. 1%. Out of 15 million voters, it's such a small number. And that number, although Andrew Gillum-- who's a gubernatorial candidate-- wasn't able to overcome that, the Democrats weren't able to overcome that, there are efforts on the ground-- I mentioned Andrea Mercado from an organization called the New Florida Majority. And that is not a one-and-done type of organization. It's a statewide organization that continues to build and outreach among the Latinx and black communities. And the gains that they saw in terms of turnout and engagement, if they're fully funded and continue on this path, you're going to see even stronger Latinx turnout come 2020. - The only thing I would add-- I agree with all of that. And I would just add that the new American majority-- as well, I would say Asian-Americans-- are also a slightly more complicated demographic in-group in terms of its voter preference. So there are absolutely important distinctions, and differences, and values, and political leanings within that new American majority that politicians who are emerging to lead it are going to have to be paying attention to. So that's-- I think I'm just reiterating, essentially, what you said, but. - Yeah. - Hi. My name's David Layman, member of the general public. [CHUCKLING] - That's a good title. - No affiliation with Harvard. So my question is really a generalization of the first questioner's question, which is, do you trust the polls? All of you have talked about the changing demographics of the electorate. A footnote on one of the charts said based on 600 of likely voters. As it's all changing, how do the pollsters know who the likely voters are? Because it's changing, as you speak, through deliberate action, and through the action of the politicians. - We got it all wrong in 2016. - Well, everyone's like, remember when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won? [GASPS] What a shock! She beat 10-term Crowley. It was out of the blue. No it wasn't, buddy. Because she had a strategy of expanding the electorate, and the pollsters missed it. And they missed Andrew Gillum in the primary. He was the only non-millionaire in a field of five. And for sure, they thought he had no chance. Black guy who's mayor of Tallahassee trying to run for governor. No way he's getting through the primary. And then when he was successful, they were shocked. Pollsters had no idea. So what the pollsters we work with, like Celinda Lake and PPP-- these are Democratic Party pollsters-- they have to change their strategy to be able to figure out what's really going on. If they're doing calling, for example-- people don't have home phones. Just the methodology in that in order to figure out what voters think has to change. And that five-out-of-five-- what they call the regular voters-- they're going to have to expand who they ask for. These are eligible, maybe registered. Maybe they've never voted for president before. They need to ask that person too. And in particular races, and districts and states, they need to prioritize, particularly what women of color are doing on the Democratic side, because that's an indicator of how, in the primaries, things will go. - I'm going to jump in on this one too, since-- I study public opinion, so I use polling data quite a bit. But I think it's safe to say there's a vast over-reliance on polls as a measure of what public opinion is. And it's our best-known way of capturing what a broad population thinks at a moment in time. But I think 2016-- I don't think it was as much of a wake-up call as it should have been, but it was a wake-up call to say, public opinion is complex, and there's a lot that's going on that we don't understand, and our current methods aren't adequate for the task. - Thank you very much. - Hi. Tom [INAUDIBLE]. You seem to have looked at this from every perspective except the president's. When you look at Obama's first midterm in 2010, Democrats lost 63 seats, which is about 40% more than Republicans lost. They also lost six Senate seats, while the Republicans actually had a net gain. We also saw that when the president personally campaigned for candidates, such as was mentioned-- Marsha Blackburn and Hyde-Smith, as well as for Kemp, and DeSantis, and Hawley, and Braun, and many others-- they did quite well. So the president's still a very powerful campaigner. We've also, of course, seen that there were other factors that came into this, such as the Kavanaugh hearings, that mobilized the base of the Republican Party. And it looks like the president still has a lot of cause for optimism, because the Democrats also-- even though they lost the House, this is going to be a ready-made excuse to explain why his agenda won't pass, whereas he had a harder time explaining when they controlled both houses of the Congress. So the president still has a lot of cause for optimism, doesn't he? - Yeah. I think that was Sarah's point, right? - That was my point. - Yeah. Thank you, though. - Yes. - Hi. My name's Monty Allen, and I go to things like this as much as I can, and I have to say, this has been a really, really good one. Thank you all for that. - I like that. [APPLAUSE] I like that comment. - I really care about what happens in 2020. And I want the Democrats to just prevail. And so what's been really insightful to me-- and I thank you for presenting it-- is identifying constituencies where it's strategically really wise for Democratic candidates to invest. Expanding the electorate. I was heartened by the vote in Florida that expanded the vote to former-- to felons. And obviously, there's some constituencies where there's no point. It would be a fool's errand to try to change their minds. But I think there's a large-- I'm particularly interested in the work that you're doing, Dr. Cramer, because I think there's a large part of our society who have been left behind by the evolutionary trajectory of our economy. And along with it is identity things, as you mentioned. And it's a loss of sense of your status in our society, your personal honor, apart from or in addition to your economic struggles that go along with those economic trends. So I think the listening project that you're initiating is maybe the key to helping Democrats know how to identify and address the issues that resulted in-- - Can I just ask just real quick? Sorry, do you have a question? Just because you have like 30 seconds-- - Yeah. OK. Well, Staten is a really great case, because it used to be Democrat. It used to be really progressive, and now it has gone the other way. So what do you think you can learn that would be good counsel for Democrats addressing that population? - Well, we're hoping that the project helps politicians of all stripes better understand the people that they represent. Because one thing-- probably goes without saying, but politicians these days spend so much time raising money that they actually don't have the luxury of inviting themselves into conversations in gas stations, like I do, which is a real shame. So we're hoping that it lends insights to politicians of a variety of parties. - Great. Thank you. I know we're running out of time, but why don't we take just this one last question? I apologize. - I'm Lewis [INAUDIBLE]. My question goes to economics. The last two election cycles have occurred during a period of expansion in the economy. Not all people have participated in that. That led to resentment. It's increasingly likely we're going to see a major economic disruption in the next two years. The closing of General Motors plants are just the first two steps in a radical change in our economy that will occur. What impact do you think this probable economic downturn is going to have on the next election, since the last two elections were fought, whatever people said in an expanding economy, and that's highly unlikely for 2020? - It's hard to know. People are talking about a recession in two years, but when will people start feeling that? So I think that it's important-- - Yeah. And not to cut you off-- - No, no, no, go. - I think there are a lot of people who work full-time who are still poor. And that sense of not being heard, that's why I think there's such momentum around a $15 minimum wage. Even a lot of Democrats have rejected that notion as too crazy. And now, that is part of the broad-based platform that's accepted that minimum wage won't destroy economy, but will help people who work, as part of this near-full employment, to be able to support themselves and their families. I think that that's one of the big things. We have a candidate I just read about, last name Yang, who's running his presidential primary campaign on universal basic income. We have a mayor, Michael Tubbs, in Stockton, California, who is doing an experimental pilot project on universal basic income to see if that could be part of the solution. He's getting big backing from tech. So I just want to say that we're going to see all kinds of ideas to deal with the economic problems that we have. We're going to see those manifest in some of the campaigns coming up. We'll know everybody that's in the field in eight weeks. Everyone who's running for president. Because we look back, Barack Obama announced January 18 before-- it's coming up. And I think the economic solution, particularly around the working poor, is going to be one of the central issues that the presidential candidates on the Democratic side are going to have to address. - We have gone over by a few minutes, so I am-- well, I guess-- what do we have? Are you the last question? Yeah, why don't we take that real quick? - I'm sorry. I really would love to hear-- and Katherine actually commented about the time candidates need to spend fundraising. My question is Citizens United and money spent. And I would be curious to know if there was anything significant about either 2016 and '18, but compared to prior elections, and/or special interest money. - The elections are getting more expensive. - Yeah. [INAUDIBLE] - Period. - I would read former Senator Dingell's article that came out today. And he was like, I was in the Senate longer than everybody, so I'm going to tell you what we need to do. One was abolish the Senate, for your reasons. Because he says, undemocratic. You get these little states. I'm from California. 40 million people. We only have two senators, and so does Rhode Island. Now, why is that fair? So he says that. But he also says, publicly finance every single campaign, so that we take money out so that we bring the public back into service. I like that idea. It's a good article. - Great. Thank you so much to all of our panelists. [APPLAUSE]


Primary elections

Primary elections were held on September 15, 1992.[1]

Democratic primary



Democratic primary results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Bruce Sundlun 78,735 52.23
Democratic Francis X. Flaherty 72,011 47.77
Total votes 150,746 100.00

Republican primary


  • Elizabeth A. Leonard, businesswoman
  • J. Michael Levesque, Mayor of West Warwick


Republican primary results[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Elizabeth A. Leonard 7,534 52.10
Republican J. Michael Levesque 6,926 47.90
Total votes 14,460 100.00

General election


Major party candidates

  • Bruce Sundlun, Democratic
  • Elizabeth A. Leonard, Republican

Other candidates

  • Joseph F. Devine, Reform
  • Jack D. Potter, Populist
  • John J. Staradumsky, Independent


1992 Rhode Island gubernatorial election[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Bruce Sundlun 261,484 61.55%
Republican Elizabeth A. Leonard 145,590 34.27%
Independent Joseph F. Devine 14,511 3.42%
Populist ('84-'96) Jack D. Potter 1,698 0.40%
Independent John J. Staradumsky 1,535 0.36%
Majority 115,894
Turnout 424,818
Democratic hold Swing


  1. ^ a b "Vote for Congress and State Offices - Democratic Primary". Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  2. ^ "Vote for Congress and State Offices - Republican Primary". Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  3. ^ "Vote for Governor by County". Retrieved 2018-10-04.
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