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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

From “Democrats see road map for 2018 in huge turnout among black voters in Alabama” by David Weigel and Eugene Scott at PowerPost: “The Alabama race, like last month’s elections in Virginia, saw Democrats outperform expectations and polling thanks to a surge of nonwhite voters. A year that began with hand-wringing over President Trump’s victory ended with routs and upsets powered by the party’s most loyal supporters. Democrats in Alabama and elsewhere spent Wednesday thanking black voters — and studying what had been so successful in getting them to the polls….“Let me be clear: We won in Alabama and Virginia because black women led us to victory,” said Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez. “Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party, and we can’t take that for granted. Period…Perez highlighted the DNC’s quiet strategy in Alabama, a $1 million investment in millennial and black voter turnout that was not advertised until the election was won. That was just one of the efforts that paid off for Democrats in Alabama, where new third-party groups including Woke Vote and BlackPAC engaged in weeks of voter persuasion and targeted messages…“They are underneath the radar, and that’s why they work so beautifully,” said Cornell Belcher, a pollster for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns who has warned Democrats that younger black voters feel taken for granted. “They didn’t just come in at the end and treat black voters like get-out-the-vote targets. They treated them like persuadable voters. They actually engaged on the top issue for African American voters, which is criminal justice reform. And they didn’t dance around the issue of police brutality.”

“Election Day defied the narrative and challenged traditional thinking about racial turnout in off-year and special elections,” writes Vann R. Newkirk II at The Atlantic. “Precincts in the state’s Black Belt, the swathe of dark, fertile soil where the African American population is concentrated, long lines were reported throughout the day, and as the night waned and red counties dominated by rural white voters continued to report disappointing results for Moore, votes surged in from urban areas and the Black Belt. By all accounts, black turnout exceeded expectations, perhaps even passing previous off-year results. Energy was not a problem…As the Cook Political Report editor Dave Wasserman noted on Twitter, turnout was particularly high in the counties with the largest black populations. In Greene County, a small area that is 80 percent black and that Martin Luther King Jr. frequented in his Poor People’s Campaign, the turnout reached 78 percent of that of 2016, an incredible mark given that special elections and midterms usually fall far short of general-election marks. Perry County, also an important mostly black site of voting-rights battles of old, turned out at 75 percent of 2016 levels. Dallas County, whose seat is the city of Selma, hit the 74 percent mark.”

In her HuffPo article, “Democrats Quietly Pumped Resources Into Alabama To Boost Doug Jones,” Amanda Terkel credits the Jones campaign with effe3ctive management of media coverage of their strategy. “For months, Democrats have stayed quiet about what, if anything, they were doing in Alabama to help Doug Jones in the state’s special Senate election. They’d insist they were helping, but they wouldn’t say how…“The Democrats have been doing a lot, but focused on the fact that Doug Jones has put together a really good campaign,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who is leading the Democratic Party’s campaign efforts in Senate races this cycle, told HuffPost last month…This reticence was strategic. They didn’t want Jones, who was running in a state that is heavily Republican, to be burdened by his association with the national Democratic Party. The focus was supposed to stay on him and his Alabama message. So there were no TV ads paid for by party committees and no high-profile transfers of funds to the campaign. ”

At CNN Politics, Eric Bradner explains how “How 2017’s elections gave Democrats a recipe for big midterm wins“: Bradener writes, “The party is turning out minority voters in huge numbers. It’s also winning big with millennials and — in a turnaround from 2016 — has closed its gap with college-educated white voters, particularly women, who are turning out in droves in the suburbs…That Democratic base is also much more energized than Trump’s coalition of older, blue-collar, white supporters in rural America. One especially stark figure that shows the enthusiasm gap: Jones got 93% of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 raw vote total in Alabama on Tuesday, while Moore got just 50% of Trump’s raw vote total. That gulf made up for Jones only getting 8% of Republican voters to cross over and support him…More evidence that points to a blue wave that’s about to crash into 2018: Monmouth University released a new poll Wednesday that showed 51% of registered voters preferring a Democratic candidate for House and just 36% favoring a Republican…That 15-point gap in what’s known as the generic congressional ballot is a full-blown disaster for the GOP.”

Niall Stanage of the Hill notes that “Even Stephen Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist and a fervent Moore backer, paid tribute to the capacity of Democrats to get their voters to the polls. “One thing you’ve got to give a hats-off to: The [Democratic National Committee] came in here, slipped in here underneath the radar, and did an amazing job of organizing. What’s my favorite word? Ground game. Nice ground game,” Bannon told Breitbart’s editor-in-chief, Alex Marlow, on SiriusXM’s “Breitbart News Daily” on Wednesday.”

Charles Pierce has an eloquent summation of the significance of Jones’s victory in Alabama in hsitorical context at Esquire: “I choose to believe that Selma put Doug Jones over the top because I believe that the country owes that particular place a debt that it only has begun to repay, a debt on which it reneged for decades. His entire campaign was based on getting repayment of that debt back on schedule. Indeed, his entire public career has been dedicated to that. He’s smart enough to recognize what a small miracle his victory actually was for the disenfranchised people on whose behalf he fought and won, and decent enough not to turn his back on them.”

Looking toward the future, McKay Coppins writes in “The Republican Nightmare is Just Beginning: In 2018, party strategists fret, they’ll face a tough electoral landscape—and a bumper crop of fringe candidates” at the Atlantic: “Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon has already pledged to field challengers for every incumbent Republican senator up for reelection next year (with the exception of Ted Cruz). And even if Bannon fails to deliver on his threat, many in the GOP worry that experienced, fully-vetted candidates are going to struggle to beat back a wave of rough-edged Trump imitators who lean into the white identity politics that the president ran on in 2016.”

Republicans arer already scrambling to figure out how to minimize the effects of Jones’s election. As Ali Rogin reports at ABC News, “While his election has powerful political repercussions, Jones’ becoming the 47th Senate Democrat (two independents caucus with the Democrats) will likely have only a modest impact on Republicans’ ability to accomplish their legislative goals, although his joining the Senate will be a strong catalyst for Republicans to finish their major agenda items before he is sworn in…The biggest difference that Jones can make, in terms of Senate votes, is on bills and nominations requiring only a simple majority of 51 votes, like budget-related measures and judicial nominees…On taxes, Jones’ victory could vex Republicans’ count if he is sworn in before Congress sends its bill to Trump’s desk. Jones is expected to be sworn no sooner than Dec. 27, and GOP leaders insist they will have the bill done by Christmas…But if they fail to advance the bill before Jones is seated, Republicans can afford to lose only one of their 51 votes in the Senate and still pass the bill on a party-line vote, with Vice President Mike Pence acting as a tie breaker.”

Alan Abramowitz has some good news for Democrats in his Sabato’s Crystal Ball update on their 2018 prospects in the House of Reps: “…We can estimate the share of the national vote and, therefore, the number of House seats Democrats would be expected to win depending on the Democratic margin on the generic ballot in early September of 2018…According to the data in this table, Democrats will need a margin of at least four points on the generic ballot in order to win a majority of seats in the House in the 2018 midterm election. In recent weeks, Democrats have been averaging a lead of between eight and 10 points according to RealClearPolitics…That large a lead on the generic ballot would predict a popular vote margin of around five points and a gain of between 30 and 33 seats in the House — enough to give Democrats a modest but clear majority.”

3 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. DChavis on

    The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s voter hotline received 235 calls about being put on inactive status or incorrectly being told they can’t vote. “Some of these voters are told that they cannot vote,” said Coty Montag, the director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, according to Mother Jones. “Others are being given provisional ballots. An estimated 33 to 35 percent of Alabama’s 3.3 million registered voters cast a ballot, more than the expected 25 percent turnout.
    Turnout by Alabama County:
    Autauga: 38.32 percent
    Barbour: 38.35 percent
    Bullock: 45.53 percent
    Butler: 42.36 percent
    Chilton: 35.42 percent
    Coffee: 36.52 percent
    Conecuh: 39.84 percent
    Coosa: 41.52 percent
    Covington: 35.09 percent
    Crenshaw: 37.66 percent
    Dale: 34.87 percent
    Dallas: 44.88 percent
    Elmore: 41.34 percent
    Geneva: 37.84 percent
    Henry: 39.20 percent
    Houston: 34.18 percent
    Lee: 32.90 percent
    Lowndes: 47.14 percent
    Macon: 37.70 percent
    Marengo: 46.01 percent
    Montgomery: 44.05 percent
    Perry: 48.70 percent
    Pike: 37.58 percent
    Tallapoosa: 40.19 percent
    Wilcox: 46.89 percent

  2. Jack Olson on

    When Trump carried Alabama over Clinton in 2016, opinionators blamed voter suppression particularly of black voters. They cited Alabama’s voter ID law as an example of that voter suppression. A year later, Doug Jones (D) defeated Roy Moore (R) in a statewide Senatorial race under the same voter ID laws and all the pundits J. P. Green has cited, as well as DNC Chairman Perez, credit heavy turnout by black voters. How is that possible if vote suppression in Alabama rigs elections there?

    • Watcher on

      Jones would have gotten a larger victory if it hadn’t been for voter suppression techniques–its really not that hard to figure out.

      And absolutely no one thought Clinton would carry Alabama so it is very disingenuous to even bring that up.


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