Election forecaster Rachel Bitecofer explains 'the reason Joe Biden is the nominee'
Rachel Bitta coffer. Thank you very much for coming on the podcast on the pleasures. All mind. Jonathan. Thank you okay. So five years ago. Nobody knew who you were two years ago. Almost two years this come July. You did something that put you on them. Map what you do out. Two years ago and July I came out and on twitter where a grand total of six hundred sixty twitter followers and nice started. Trolling the big election forecasters and They were having serious conversations as to whether the Democrats could pick up the twenty three seats they needed to flip the house and I introduced my new theory and model which was Arguing no no no because her way undercutting us it's going to be about forty seats and the reason why is because the electorate is going to be reshaped by backlash to Donald Trump. Now you said in July is July twenty eighteen. You put out a forecast that said initially forty two seats and folks thought you were nuts. They did they thought I was nuts and Took real umbrage to the certainty number one that I was talking about Especially because I was pointing out a specific districts. Some of them were Obviously not controversial. They were agreed upon really competitive districts. They've released as toss ups by others. But and I was saying. No these are one hundred percent to flip but really Especially things like Virginia's seventh district which were not even on other people's radar at the time is that That's down in the Richmond area of the suburbs of Richmond. And I said not districts GONNA flip. I don't care if it has played host to one of the House Freedom Caucus most ideological members and David Brat. It is going to be a democratic seat after these elections. And and that's what happened. Is that one okay. So why were you so certain? I was so certain number one because I had already developed the theory and watched it play out and win election cycle actually in two thousand seventeen election cycle in Virginia. Where I happened to be based I Had said to my colleague as we entered that polling season. We did polling state. Polling there in Virginia You know this is my expectation. I think we're GONNA see an electorate. That's much more democratically In a democratically comprise. We're GONNA see more young voters more voters of color more women more college educated voters in these voters are going to be breaking much more strongly for. Democrats than what you've been seeing under the Obama years and we need to account in this In our likely voter modeling because otherwise our polling is going to underestimate the Democrats support or Ralph Northam support in the election. And you know My colleague was certainly In agreeance that there was going to be Advantage for Democrats but the size and the shape of it. I think you know he was a little skeptical of until we saw it manifest in that virgin the election and the election night I was coming up to DC to do some local radio on whammy with coach. Mandy and I was literally yelling in the car. Oh my gosh I should have modeled this. I should have put something out I. I knew this was going to happen. Was a nine point. Route and Democrats picked up fifteen seats in the house of delegates. And so I committed right then and there I was gonNA find a way to model my theory and I was going to do something for two thousand eighteen and that's what I did. Okay so you sort of talked to round your theory. What is the theory? The theory is for the last eight years of you know for eight years. Basically of the Obama Administration. You know we had this Obama. Coalition emerge right two thousand and six. You see the Democrats. Pick up control of the House of Representatives and Then you see them. You know flipping the presidency in two thousand eight. I mean think people forget how big of a mandate that Obama election was picking up You know states like Missouri and North Carolina in that process and then all of a sudden. It's just disappeared right. Twenty ten they go from from that huge Obama win in two thousand eight to just getting shellacked with sixty three seats in the House of Representatives. And you know the narrative that was set on the Cable News. Chagos was Oh. The Democrats have reached with Obamacare and independence turned against them. And that's the story of the and and you know sitting at home and working on my PhD. Just getting started in Grad School to get to this point where I am now and I remember looking at the election data and just being like that is not what the data says. The data says turnout collapsed. And when it did it collapsed were heavily amongst Democratic voters. People who cast ballots either as Democrats are independence but cast them for Democratic candidates. And I just couldn't understand why the media narrative missed that important component So you know when I was looking at You know the elections of twenty fourteen and twenty ten. I was thinking about who didn't show up to vote more than anything else. And you know that's really what drives my research. Is this argument that. In the polarized era where we do have such little bit of Crossover Voting Republicans Voting for Democrats and vice versa. What matters at the end of the day in a competitive race is the is the composition of the electorate demographically Because that will determine the partisan composition and if the partisan composition doesn't good for Democrats are GONNA lose the race only looks good. Apparently when Democrats are freaked out. And they're only tout when they're not in power so never crafts. All ways freaked out even when they are empowered. Sabih like an inherent trait. You would think now you you said that. Turn out collapsed in two thousand ten but also in two thousand fourteen and a lot of the media the chatter. The cable chatter then was it collapsed because of disappointment in in Obama at both in Tan and in fourteen is it as granular as that or is it that the the Democratic Party and the candidates didn't do enough to maintain the enthusiasm from Eight and twelve so glad that you asked because Anybody that follows me on twitter will know that. I put a lot of the onus on Democrats the Democratic Party The D. Trip The DNC the SEC and the way that they approach electioneering as compared to the way that the Republican Party approaches electioneering. You know in in terms of what happened Democrats do not do an effective job getting their voters excited to show up to vote They liked to have cerebral Conversations voters that overestimate no offense to voters the Basically the intelligence of the electorate think income search for exactly. I think everybody's on Morning Joe Panel and whereas the Republicans are talking to the gut always and it's always about stakes right. If you don't show up to vote everything you love will fall apart. Die Right I mean that's that's a message right and they make people care about things that are are things people don't care about people don't care about state and local politics. It's unfortunate it's not fair. It's actually rational given the amount of influence that state and local politics has over one's life but it's a fact right and so the way that Republicans deal with that is they tie. They nationalize state and local officials to national politics or to national issues like abortion and guns and that way the voters like okay. I don't care about John Smith but he supports trump and I love trumps. So I'M GONNA show up to vote right. Democrats really fail to tap into that nationalized messaging. You'll hear them all the time. Say we'll all politics is local right like it's like one thousand nine hundred eighty tip. O'neill thing and if that was ever true. It's certainly not true now. All politics is national. The Republican Party gets that they get that voters will only show up in a high stakes environment and so they make that high stakes environment for them.