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Analysis: Biden's GOP endorsements show the cracks in Trump's coalition

September 1, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Joe Biden is attracting more crossover endorsements from prominent members of the opposing party than any other presidential candidate from either side in decades. That doesn't guarantee the former vice president victory in November, but history suggests it could signal a lasting break in the Republican coalition that provides new opportunities to Democrats for years to come.

The public support for Biden significantly exceeds the number of Republicans who officially endorsed Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump in 2016.

That could be happening again: Almost everyone on these long lists of Republican defectors is exactly the sort of White college-educated professional that Biden, polls show, is on track to win at numbers unmatched by any previous Democratic nominee.

The common hope of these organizers is that their public embrace of the former vice president will help blunt the efforts by Trump to convince Republican-leaning voters tilting toward Biden that Democrats are "socialists" committed to undermining the nation's fundamental values.

"I think the biggest value is that it shows it's OK to vote for Joe Biden for Republicans," says Wes Gullett, a former Arizona state director for the late Sen. John McCain, who has endorsed Biden.

A steady stream of GOP endorsements this year for Biden -- highlighted by the early emergence of The Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump, two groups trying to peel away GOP voters from the President -- has surged into a torrent over the past two weeks.

Just since the start of the Democratic National Convention last month, Biden has received public endorsements from a huge roster of Republicans, including about two dozen former House and Senate members, nearly 75 former national security officials in Republican administrations, a group of former Republican Justice Department officials, and hundreds of aides to the three Republican presidential nominees immediately before Trump: Mitt Romney in 2012, McCain in 2008 and George W.

And the Biden camp plans to highlight his GOP support in targeted digital advertising, mailings and other communication aimed at Republican-leaning voters who have signaled willingness to cross party lines before, one senior campaign adviser said.

They include many former high-ranking officials from Bush's administration (including Secretary of State Colin Powell; Michael Hayden, who directed both the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency; UN ambassador and later Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte; Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer); the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations (including William Webster, who directed the FBI for Reagan and the CIA for Bush, and Charles Fried, Reagan's solicitor general); three former GOP senators (Flake, John Warner of Virginia and Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire), as well as two other former GOP senators who later served as defense secretaries in Democratic administrations (William Cohen and Chuck Hagel) and an array of prominent former Republican House members, such as Chris Shays and Connie Morella, who held the sort of white-collar suburban districts Democrats now dominate.

By contrast, the most prominent Democrat the Trump campaign could recruit to speak for him at the recent Republican convention was a single state representative from Georgia.

One key difference between then and now is that Nixon's endorsements included several currently serving Democrats, while Biden's list is composed of former officials and aides.

Only a few Republican elected officials (including Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott) have said they are not voting for Trump, and even they have not endorsed Biden.

Flake, in a recent interview on a podcast hosted by Al Hunt and Democratic strategist James Carville, acknowledged that absence reflected Trump's dominance of the current Republican infrastructure: "There's just no room right now in the party apparatus for any dissenting voices or anybody to say, 'Hey, you know, we [are] kind of in a demographic cul-de-sac here that we're just not going to get out of. ' "

This year, Democrats have an opportunity to chisel off a [college-educated] demographic that will come to be known as 'Biden Republicans. ' "

Even if Trump suffers more defections from those voters than previous Republican nominees, he could still win if he generates enough turnout in the key swing states of his core groups of non-college, evangelical and rural Whites.

For these Republican-leaning professionals, "it shouldn't be a false choice that I've got to take a right-winger who offends me on all these social values because I want to keep my taxes down and the economy going well," says Pete Giangreco, a Democratic consultant who served as the chief strategist for Amy Klobuchar's presidential campaign.

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