David Shor’s Illusory Path Forward for the Democrats

Elections

If I commented on every interesting part of this interview that Eric Levitz conducted for New York magazine with socialist data scientist David Shor, I’d end up recapitulating the whole thing. Shor has a lot to say that strikes me as plainly correct. But he also develops one line of thought that strikes me as completely nuts. For Democrats to get a decent election outcome in 2022, he says, it’s

very important that we add as many states as we can. Currently, even if we have an exceptionally good midterm, the most likely outcome is that we lose one or two Senate seats. And then, going into 2024, we have something like seven or eight Democrats who are in states that are more Republican than the country overall. Basically, we have this small window right now to pass redistricting reform and create states. And if we don’t use this window, we will almost certainly lose control of the federal government and not be in a position to pass laws again potentially for a decade. In terms of putting numbers on things, I think that if we implemented D.C. and Puerto Rican statehood and passed redistricting reform, that would roughly triple our chance of holding the House in 2022 and roughly the same in the Senate. The fact that it’s possible to triple those odds is a testament to how bleak the baseline case is.

The likelihood that a Democratic Senate that can’t pass a minimum-wage hike is going to add states (let alone do it for the purpose of giving Democrats an edge) in filibusterable legislation — and in time for the midterms! — seems pretty low. But he returns to the idea at the close of the interview: “We can’t control what Trump or Republicans do. But we can add states, we can ban partisan redistricting, and we can elevate issues that appeal to both college-educated liberals and a lot of working-class ‘conservatives.’ If we don’t, things could get very bleak, very fast.” Well no, you can’t, at least for two out of three of those suggestions.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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