washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

J.P. Green

Political Strategy Notes

DNC race in rear view, Bernie Sanders heads to Kansas to rip Republican policies” — Love this headline and the story by Dave Weigel at PowerPost. As Sanders says in the article, “One of my goals as outreach chair of the Senate Democrats is to do everything I can to make the Democratic Party competitive in red states…I think the Democratic Party has been embarrassingly bad at that recently, and we need to expand our reach.” Wouldn’t it be great if a team of top Democrats began visiting states controlled by Republicans and called attention to metrics of their failures? If they can’t visit, then have the national Democratic leaders hammer away at the state GOP establishments on twitter and Facebook. Sow the seeds of a real 50-state strategy with some message discipline displayed by national leaders, as well as local Democrats.

Another encouraging story about a successful Democratic uprising: Paul Blumenthal’s “Buoyed By Anti-Trump Activism, Democrat Wins Delaware Special Election:An army of volunteers, many from out of state, flooded the state Senate district for Stephanie Hansen” at HuffPo. As Blumenthal reports, “The last time her opponent, John Marino, ran in this district, in 2014, he lost by just 2 points. [Stephanie] Hansen’s 58-42 percent victory over Marino on Saturday ensured that Democrats will maintain control of the state Senate. It also notched a big Donald Trump-era win for a new generation of Democratic activists shocked into action by the November election.”

Greg Sargent gets down to raw specifics in his Plum Line post “Trump will likely sell out his working-class white base. Here’s how.” In one section, Sargent writes, “…Trump strongly signaled to working-class white voters that, while he’d repeal the Affordable Care Act, he isn’t like those other mean old Republicans when it comes to government’s role in expanding health care to the poor and sick. He and his advisers recently insisted that under the GOP replacement, no one will lose coverage. But they’ve already backed off that promise, instead signaling that they may embrace the block-granting of Medicaid, which would probably lead to cuts over time. The bottom line: The Trump/GOP replacement is likely to end Obamacare’s effort to create a universal coverage guarantee.”

For those who believe that Democrats can regain lost ground by focusing more on economic issues, Alexander Burns has a New York Times article of interest, “Angling for a Comeback, Democratic Governors Sharpen Focus on Jobs.” As Burns explains, “Gov. Gina M. Raimondo of Rhode Island, a Democrat who is in her first term, said her party had too often failed to put jobs and economic opportunity at the forefront of its agenda. Democrats had erred, she said, by treating jobs merely as one issue in a “check list” of positions…“My own view is, we have to say: The whole game is job growth,” Ms. Raimondo said. “People feel left behind because they are left behind. People feel the playing field isn’t level because it’s not level. So let’s level it.”…Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State, the vice chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said Democrats had to make job growth their organizing theme on all subjects, including immigration and the Affordable Care Act. The most effective attacks on Mr. Trump, he said, would cast the president’s policies as harmful to the economy. “We as a party have to wrap all of our messages and all of our issues in a central jobs and economic message…”

Tip of the hat to both Rep. Keith Ellison and former Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, the latter just elected head of the DNC, for the classy way they handled their rivalry, despite some acrimony among their respective followers. As NYT’s Jonathan Martin reports, “Taking the microphone from Mr. Perez, Mr. Ellison pleaded with his fervent backers: “We don’t have the luxury to walk out of this room divided…Directly appealing to his disappointed supporters, Mr. Ellison said, “If they trust me, they need to come on and trust Tom Perez as well.” Perez, who also called for unity, is expected to leverage some of Ellison’s interesting ideas for maximizing voter turnout.

In his column, “Bannon’s dangerous ‘deconstruction’,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. provides a crisp description of Bannon’s use of the expression “deconstruction of the administrative state” and what it means on the ground: “In practice, this is a war on a century’s worth of work to keep our air and water clean; our food, drugs and workplaces safe; the rights of employees protected; and the marketplace fair and unrigged. It’s one thing to make regulations more efficient and no more intrusive than necessary. It’s another to say that all the structures of democratic government designed to protect our citizens from the abuses of concentrated private power should be swept away…Trump and Bannon are happy to expand the reach of the state when it comes to policing, immigration enforcement, executive-branch meddling in the work of investigative agencies, and the browbeating of individual companies that offend the president in one way or another. The parts of government they want to dismantle are those that stand on the side of citizens against powerful interests.”

In bad news for Betsy Devos, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll finds that a healthy majority, “58 percent of Iowans oppose taking public school funds to help parents pay for non-public schools, while only 35 percent support it,” reports Mackenzie Ryan in the Register. It’s “just” Iowa, conservatives will say. But ‘just Iowa’ was a heartland Trump state, and a 23 percent gap (+/- 3.5 m.o.e.) is pretty significant, especially because Iowa’s popular Republican governor Terry Branstad and a host of state Republican leaders supported it. Secretary of Education Devos has been an ardent advocate of  public school privatization schemes.

John Schuppe of NBC news shares a revealing quote by Speaker John Boehner at a recent health care forum: “In the 25 years I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time, agreed on what a healthcare proposal should look like. Not once.” When the ‘repeal and replace’ follies are all played out, the only thing certain is that some major provisions of Obamacare will endure because they are higly popular, but they will call the package something else. Whether the ‘replacement’ will actually function remains much in doubt.

CNN’s Jake Tapper sticks it to Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, who had the hypocrisy to blast the New York Times for not noting his birthplace accurately: “I imagine it must be really annoying when someone puts out false info about where you were born,” tweets Tapper. “Must really bother you!!”


‘Big Tent’ vs. ‘The Base’ Strategies:” Either/Or or Both/And?

Here we go again with yet another article about Dems having to chose between a ‘big tent’ vs. ‘turnout the base’ strategy. Clare Foran has some interesting observations on the topic in her article in The Atlantic, “Can the Democratic Party Win Back Voters It Lost to Trump? Liberals may need to decide whether to focus on energizing their base or expanding their coalition.”

As the Democratic Party contemplates what’s next in the wake of its defeat in the presidential election, liberals may have to decide what matters more: Building a big tent party where far-left voters and moderate centrists can co-exist even if they occasionally disagree on policy and strategy, or focusing on the demands of the party’s progressive base, potentially creating a more like-minded and ideologically rigid coalition in the process.

In an effort to persuade Democrats to embrace a big-tent strategy, Third Way, a center-left think tank, argues in a new report that voters aren’t necessarily rigidly attached to a particular party, and might be won over as a result. The report, titled “Why Demography Does Not Equal Destiny,” concludes that demographic change in the United States won’t deliver Democrats a winning electoral coalition by default, but that there are still opportunities for the party to convince Americans to vote for Democratic candidates even if they haven’t always done so in the past

….[Third Way V.P.] Erickson Hatalsky argues that voting trends suggest that some voters swing back and forth between the two parties rather than remain consistently loyal to one party or the other. For example, hundreds of counties across the United States flipped from voting for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election to voting for Trump in 2016. Some congressional districts also delivered victory for Trump while at the same time reelecting Democratic members of Congress, like Cheri Bustos in Illinois and Matt Cartwright in Pennsylvania.

Foran has Alan Abramowitz present the counter-argument, that investing more in turning out the Democratic base is a more promising strategy:

Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University, is skeptical that Democrats can significantly grow their base by converting large numbers of either Republicans or Trump voters. He believes Democrats would be more effective if they focused on increasing turnout of core Democratic constituencies, such as African American, Hispanic, and younger voters.

“There’s a reason why campaigns are devoting more and more resources trying to energize the base rather than trying to persuade people. It’s because trying to persuade people is extremely difficult in this day and age,” Abramowitz said in an interview. “That’s not to say there won’t ever be any movement back and forth between parties,” he added, “but I just don’t see there being any large number of movable voters.”

Abramowitz notes that looking back at the voting behavior of independents spanning the past several decades may fail to adequately recognize that party loyalties are much stronger today than in the 1970s and 80s. Instead, he points to increasing ideological division among voters in recent years and what he calls “negative partisanship”—a phenomenon whereby animosity toward the opposing party becomes a driving factor behind how a person decides to vote—to argue that there likely isn’t a significant number of voters up for grabs.

But few Democratic strategists are saying that it must be all about one or the other option. It’s more a matter of allocating resources optimaly between turning out the base and targeting persuadable voters, including those who have voted for Republicans.

There is a third category, however, which doesn’t fit neatly into either the ‘persuadable’ or ‘base’ voter pidgeon holes, non-voters who are waking up to the reality that their lives are indeed affected by politics, thanks in large part to Trump’s scary extremism. Review the articles about the women’s marches across America leading up to Trump’s inauguration, and you will find numerous quotes from women and some men saying they have not been politically-involved, but now they are worried.

This is a new constituency for Democrats. It’s not that they are ‘persuadables’. It’s more that they are now available. Nobody knows how large is this segment of new likely voters. But Democrats could use some creative ideas for reaching them.


Political Strategy Notes

“To resist the Trump presidency effectively, Democrats have to go beyond the defensive posture of relying exclusively or even primarily on protests, demonstrations and other forms of opposition. Instead, Democrats must seek to establish an independent and strong political base from which to articulate an alternative vision for the country. One way to do this would be for the governors of the blue states — California, New York, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Connecticut and Colorado, to name some of the mightiest in numbers and weight — to form a very public council to articulate that alternative vision and publicly seek to make that vision a reality within their respective states: a vision that includes universal health care, strong support for labor unions, a humanitarian approach to immigrants and refugees, protection of the environment, among other morally necessary and compelling elements…This kind of public group stance by those representing the people who actually provided the popular vote majority for Hillary Clinton would be the assertion of a positive vision supported by a real political base to realize that vision. It would give people everywhere a sense of hope and strength from which to fight the larger national battle. And it would offer up a highly visible, positive alternative worldview to Trump’s dystopian picture of social reality that lacks any idealistic social elements.” – from “Going on the Offensive: A State-Based Strategy for the Democratic Party” at Truthout by Peter Gabel, editor-at-large of Tikkun magazine and author of Another Way of Seeing: Essays on Transforming Law, Politics, and Culture.

The Upshot’s Nate Cohn is geting some buzz with his post, “Democrats’ Best Bet to Retake the House? Follow the Sun.” Cohn explains, “Mrs. Clinton’s success in Orange County, and in well-educated and Hispanic areas elsewhere in the Sun Belt, helped her win the popular vote — though there was no payoff in the Electoral College. But it’s districts like these that will decide whether the Democrats can make a serious run at control of the House…There is no guarantee that the Democrats can put the House in play, even if Mr. Trump’s approval ratings remain as low as they are now or slip further. The Republicans have so many safe seats that they could even survive a so-called wave election like the ones that swept Democrats to power in 2006 and out of power in 2010. The Democrats need 24 seats to retake the House…But whether the Democrats can do it will come down to places like Orange County, which is more populous than Iowa. Four congressional districts that have at least some territory in the county still have Republican representatives, and all four were carried by Mrs. Clinton…It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the road to a Democratic House begins and ends at Laguna Beach.”

At The Plum Line Greg Sargent, who likes Cohn’s analysis, believes the 2018 outcome may turn on the answer to a key question: “One of the big questions in American politics right now is how deep public support really is for the agenda loosely known as “Trumpism.” Did the 2016 election represent a fluke-like confluence of factors that enabled Trump to eke out a narrow electoral college win, despite having his worldview repudiated in the popular vote? Or are we in the midst of a genuine turn in public opinion — away from the inclusive, cosmopolitan pluralism that seemed to be gaining ground and toward restrictive, America-first, wall-them-off nationalism?

In his post at The Fix, “Donald Trump is losing his war with the media,” Aaron Blake notes “A new poll from Quinnipiac University suggests that while people may be broadly unhappy with the mainstream media, they still think it’s more credible than Trump. The president regularly accuses the press of “fake news,” but people see more “fake news” coming out of his own mouth…The poll asked who registered voters “trust more to tell you the truth about important issues.” A majority — 52 percent — picked the media. Just 37 percent picked Trump…The poll did find that registered voters by a narrow margin think the media has treated Trump unfairly, with 50 percent saying they disapproved of the coverage of Trump and 45 percent approving. But voters are even more critical of Trump’s treatment of the media, with 61 percent disapproving and 35 percent approving…Even 23 percent of Republicans say Trump is mistreating the media, and independents disapprove 59-35.”

In his  Politico post “Poll: Support for Obamacare is rising” Steven Shepard writes “…A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows voters are now split evenly on the law. Forty-five percent of registered voters approve of the law, the poll shows, and 45 percent disapprove…Of nine separate provisions of the law tested in the poll, more poll respondents want to repeal only one — the individual mandate that Americans purchase health insurance — than want to keep it…Other provisions are resoundingly popular. Nearly two-thirds of voters, 65 percent, want to keep prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions, including 59 percent of Republicans. Sixty-three percent want to keep allowing those younger than 26 years of age to stay on their parents’ plan, including 56 percent of Republicans…Voters even want to keep provisions of the law opposed by most Republicans. Only a quarter want to repeal requiring businesses with more than 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance, while 59 percent want to keep it. Just 28 percent want to repeal requirements that insurance companies cover birth-control medication, and 55 percent want to keep it. And one-third, 33 percent, want to repeal taxes on medical devices, while slightly more, 39 percent, want to keep those taxes in place.”

Told:

Lanae Erickson Hatalsky and Jim Kessler, both vice presidents of the centrist think tank Third Way, write in their Washington Post op-ed, “Why demographics weren’t — and won’t be — destiny for Democrats” that “Democrats need to dig themselves out of a big hole from state legislative races on up, and it starts by treating voters as more than a check box on a census form. It will require building a big-tent coalition based on values and experiences, not just demographic groups, and rethinking the party’s pitch and policies to respond to the needs and concerns of Americans across the country, not just in cities and on coasts. Only if the Democratic Party can transform itself to meet those goals will it be ready to counter Trump and his noxious, dangerous strain of right-wing populism over the long term.”

NYT columnist David Leonhardt explains why “The Democratic Base Isn’t Enough“: “Winning back the House and Senate requires doing better in heavily white, nonmetropolitan America, which tends to be conservative…Democrats would be crazy to alienate the growing voting groups, such as millennials, Latinos andAsian-Americans, that now support the party so strongly. The answer for the party is almost surely more complex than simply moving to the right. Instead, it likely revolves around an economic message that appeals to both center and left…But if Democrats want to return to power — not just in the White House, but in Congress and at the state level too — they need a strategy that appeals to more white voters.”

Well, here’s a telling moment of candor from Montana GOP Chairman Jeff Essman, as reported by Tom Lutey of The Billings Gazette: “In an email to party members, Jeff Essmann warned Republicans the mail-in election would “give the Democrats an inherent advantage in close elections due to their ability to organize large numbers of unpaid college students and members of public employee unions to gather ballots by going door to door….At issue is state Senate Bill 503, which would require a mail ballot election this spring when Montanans are likely to vote to replace U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, a Republican nominated by President Donald Trump to be Interior secretary. The Senate is expected to vote on Zinke’s confirmation next week. A special election would follow within 85 to 100 days.”


Trump’s Doomed Govern-from-the-Base Strategy Opens Up Opportunity for Dems

In his Boston Globe column, “Renewing the Democrats — and America,” Richard North Patterson’s lede shares an ominous statistic:

WHY HAVE DEMOCRATS struggled to defeat President Trump’s most objectionable cabinet nominees? Because Hillary Clinton’s 3 million popular vote margin obscures this nettlesome fact: Outside California, Massachusetts, and New York, Donald Trump won by 4 million votes.

Patterson was making the point that Trump’s popular vote totals were broadly impressive outside those three states. Indeed, this is the kind of statistic Trump supporters will use to justify their “mandate,” such as it is. But, if Clinton had won Florida and North Carolina she would be the new president. There are many such cherry-picked alternative scenarios favoring either Clinton or Trump, none of which adequately reflect the complex totality of America very well.

When you factor in the votes of third and fourth party candidates, Trump lost the popular vote by more than 10,600,000, hardly a mandate to force unwanted legislation or executive orders on the majority of voters. Not that he will ever admit it, claiming as he still does that he won a popular vote majority, which was ‘stolen’ and is not reflected in the official count.

Trump clearly hopes to dazzle the public with his mighty juggernaut that runs on hot air and outright lies, to an extent never before seen in the White House. Instead of picking a moderate cabinet, or one with both conservatives and liberals, to indicate that he respected the real popular vote and wanted to win broad sympathy for his bipartisan efforts, he thought he could bluff his way into stampeding a fearful congress, egged on no doubt, by the likes of Bannon, Flynn and other extremists in his circle.

Call it a missed opportunity. A Republican who charted a more moderate course might have been able to build popular support to the point where he could actually pass legislation and break the partisan deadlock in congress. That would have required real leadership, the kind that strives to bring people together, rather than drive them even further apart. Apparently, that was never a consideration. Trump’s governing philosophy is the polar opposite of he Lincoln/Obama strategy of reaching out to adversaries and building unity.

Trump has chosen to govern from his ever-dwindling base of resentful authoritarians, who get their jollies bashing liberals, joined by wealthy elites who benefit from right-wing economic policies. By all appearances, this is about a third of the electorate at most, and shrinking. Many of those who voted for him are abandoning ship, as it becomes increasingly clear that he has no intention of actually helping the working-class voters who enabled his electoral college majority. His “disapproval’ poll figures are already setting records early in his presidency.

In his column, Patterson does share some good ideas, urging that “a responsive Democratic party can provide education and retraining for the new economy; strengthen public schools; diminish student debt; and make college free for those in need.” Democrats have supported those policies, but somehow, have failed to get any credit for doing so. Also

Universal health care prevents illness from ruining lives and draining our collective wealth. Rebuilding infrastructure — roads, airports, internet access, energy grids — creates jobs and strengthens our economy. Tax breaks? Former Democratic National Committe chairman Howard Dean suggests they go to businesses that invest in regions left behind.

This vision of national renewal cuts across age, ethnicity and class. Further, Dean believes, Trump is repelling young people who embrace inclusiveness, reproductive choice, and combating climate change. Last year’s election showed them that disengagement breeds disaster; now the party must become their vehicle.

The voters leaving the Trump ship are not quite ready to get on board with the Democratic Party, which has yet to successfully brand itself as the credible alternative for working people, or the party of “national renewal,” to use Patterson’s term. Democrats have the right policies, but they have failed convince the public as a whole that they intend to serve first and foremost, as champions of America’s workers of all races.

The prevailing image of the Democrats is one of an umbrella party sheltering a gaggle of different interest groups, but lacking a central message of incorruptible support for working people and their families. That has to change. When it does, a new era of Democratic-driven progress can finally begin.


Political Strategy Notes

From “41 Democratic Senators Can Stop Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Pick” a HuffPo article by Richard Greene: “…It is not a certainty that Republicans will, indeed, “nuke” the filibuster. They need 50 of their 52 Senate members and it is unlikely that experienced members like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski and Trump critics like Jeff Flake or Ben Sasse will go along with the destruction of historic minority rights in The Senate.  They understand that “what goes around comes around” and that, one day, they will again be in the minority.  This hard reality kept 53 Democrats from eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court Justices when they voted to reform the procedure in 2013.” Republicans have shown impressive discipline recently, but it’s hard to see much of a downside for Dems in forcing their hand, and a successful fillibuster could slow Trump’s agenda.

The Center for American Progress has an article, “States of Change: Demographic Change, Representation Gaps, and Challenges to Democracy, 1980–2060” by Rob Griffin, William H. Frey, and Ruy Teixeira, which deploys simulations to show that the best way to reduce “future representation gaps lies in equalizing registration and turnout rates across races.” In one section the authors write, “The assumption that all newly registered voters would turn out at the same rate as currently registered voters is probably very unrealistic. Those who have registered without benefit of reform are likely more motivated and attuned to politics than those who have not and, therefore, are more likely to actually cast a ballot than those who are newly registered due to a reform process…This view is supported by recent results from Oregon’s new system of “opt-out” voter registration, where those who interact with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles are automatically registered and then have to actively respond to a postcard notification to opt out of being registered. If they do nothing, they remain registered. In 2016, those registered by this method in Oregon turned out at a rate that was roughly half of those registered by conventional means…So, in this scenario, we still assume that registration reform will be hugely successful at elevating and equalizing registration rates, but we also assume that these new registrants will turn out at only half the current rate for registrants in their state, race, age, and gender group…”

At salon.com Sean McElwee’s “Automatic voter registration isn’t a sexy topic — but it’s crucial to Democrats and progressives regaining power:  Data from New York, a blue state with regressive voting laws, shows how easier registration could change everything” ought to be required reading for every Democrat. From the concluding paragraph: “Evidence is still coming in on the impact of AVR, but early evidence is positive. Oregon automatically registered 225,000 people through the state Department of Motor Vehicles, and 43 percent voted in the 2016 election. Other reforms, like same-day registration and looser voting registration deadlines, are shown to bolster turnout. In New York and other states where Democrats have power, progressives should push for the implementation of automatic voter registration, same-day registration and early voting, as well as other reforms to ease access. Of the six states in which Democrats  have a trifecta, meaning they control the governor’s office and both legislative chambers, four still don’t have automatic voter registration. In states where they don’t have full power, progressives should put automatic voter registration on the ballot. (Alaska, a heavily Republican state, recently passed automatic voter registration by referendum.) Automatic voter registration can ensure that all Americans are represented in the voting booth, and progressives should embrace it.”

An eye-opening statistic from “Tracking the fortunes of the white working-class” at The Economist: “…The gap in wage levels between all workers and WWCM [white working-class males] has widened from an average of 3.7% in 1990-92 to 6.9% over the past two years.”

Katie Zezima has an interesting report, “‘California is a nation, not a state’: A fringe movement wants a break from the U.S.” at The Washington Post. California pulling out of the U.S. would be like Scotland becoming independent of the U.K. in that it would provide a green light for an extreme right takeover of   the rest of the country. The movement is not likely to prevail, but it provides another reminder that Trump may be the most divisive president in U.S. history.

Here’s a question that is surely on the minds of millions.

In his NYT column, “How Can We Get Rid of Trump?,” Nicholas Kristoff observes, “One poll from Public Policy Polling found that as many Americans — 46 percent — favor impeachment of President Trump as oppose it. Ladbrokes, the betting website, offers even odds that Trump will resign or leave office through impeachment before his term ends…Sky Bet, another site, is taking wagers on whether Trump will be out of office by July.” Kristoff says, “My take is that unless things get much worse, removal may be a liberal fantasy…If I were betting, I’d say we’re stuck with Trump for four years.” However, Kristoff adds, “And what does it say about a presidency that, just one month into it, we’re already discussing whether it can be ended early?”

A quote from Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) in “Democrats Aim to Reclaim the Working-Class Vote” by Mori Rothman and Yasmeen Qureshi at npr.org: ” I really believe our party is at its best when we’re the Robert Kennedy coalition, that we are the party of blue collar workers, of all races, of all backgrounds, that we are the party of those who were left out and deeply believe in the American dream and want to achieve it. That is who the Democratic Party is in our soul, that is the best to win elections, but it’s also the best to govern. If we’re going to achieve progress in these areas, we need to it needs to be everyone and that includes white working class voters.”

Do acquaint yourself with a couple of groups working to elect Democrats at the state and local legislative levels and click around on their website links to see what works for you. “The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is the permanent authority and central headquarters for Democratic state legislative leaders and races nationwide. The DLCC is the only Democratic organization led by progressive champions in state legislatures around the country. Our board and partners are all legislators on the front lines of fighting back against the Trump agenda.” The second group is “Flipable,” described by Mashable’s Jason Abbruzzese as “an organization focused on identifying local political positions that could turn from Republican to Democratic, and figuring out how to provide the resources to flip them.”


Political Strategy Notes

At TPM’s Edblog Josh Marshall makes the case “Flynn Doesn’t Matter. This Is About Trump,” and notes, “Through the course of the campaign, transition and presidency, three top Trump advisors and staffers have had to resign because of issues tied to Russia. Paul Manafort, Carter Page and now Michael Flynn. Page might arguably be termed a secondary figure. Manafort ran Trump’s campaign and Flynn was his top foreign policy advisor for a year. The one common denominator between all these events, all these men is one person: Donald Trump…Is it even remotely credible that with everything that led up to it, Michael Flynn initiated and conducted this back channel on his own? Hardly.” Adele M. Stan also has some interesting observations in her post “What Does Flynn Know About Trump?” at The American Prospect.

The Flynn debacle will likely dominate today’s news, but Democrats can be forgiven quick high-fives for forcing, along with a handfull of Republicans, the poorly-vetted Andrew F. Puzder’s withdrawall from consideration as Secretary of Labor. it’s a small consolation prize for the hair’s breadth confirmation of Betsy DeVos at Education and the failure to rally enough votes to stop Tom Price from running Health and Human Services. But no one should expect Trump to now nominate a moderate for the Department of Labor. Still, anything that slows Trump’s extremist agenda is a welcome victory. Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said, quoted in Alan Rappeport’s New York Times report, “I think when you have to put all this energy into an unreasonable nominations process, it takes away the energy that could better be used for other things.” ‘Unreasonable’ — That’s Republican for anything more rigorous than a rubber stamp. But Blunt is right about wasted Republican energy, and that’s a good thing.

Rappeport notes also that “Mr. Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is facing a revolt by E.P.A. employees scrambling to block him. Ms. Collins declared her opposition to him Wednesday.” In addition, “The Senate must still vote on the nomination of Representative Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina to be Mr. Trump’s budget director, over the loud objection of Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who took to the Senate floor again Wednesday to accuse Mr. Mulvaney, a hard-line conservative, of being anti-military.” That vote could come today.

Rachel Maddow brings up a little matter that requires some explanation on the part of the DCCC.  “Democrats, you are not moving forward right now. You are losing ground,” says Maddow. Before he was confirmed HHS Secretary Tom Price repped this large, increasingly-diverse, suburban Atlanta district, which Trump won by just 1.5 percent in November. To cede it to Republicans would be political malpractice. Here’s the candidates line-up to date.

But Ed Kilgore notes at New York Magazine, “The biggest problem is that Democratic turnout in Georgia special elections — and really any sort of runoff — has been abysmal. That’s likely why local political analysts do not seem remotely as bullish as their national counterparts on the donkey’s odds of swiping the 6th…Having said that, if the Trump administration’s next two months are anything like its first, the prospect of an early “referendum on Trump” to smite the 45th president could generate enough money and other resources to break the mold, and enough attention to get Democrats to the polls who would otherwise never show up. But for right now, it’s the GOP’s race to lose.”

The DNC chair race is getting most of the buzz, but, for clues about Democratic strategy to win back a House majority next year, check out Simone Pathe’s “DCCC Announces 2018 Leadership Team: Expanded team includes returning members and some fresh faces” at Roll Call.

The 2018 Senate races are far more problematic for Dems. As Kyle Kondik explains at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “Because independent Sens. Angus King (ME) and Bernie Sanders (VT) caucus with the Democrats, they are effectively defending 25 seats next year, while Republicans are only defending nine…There are conflicting forces at play in 2018. On one hand, the party that does not hold the White House often benefits from the midterm environment. History suggests that the Republicans’ dream of netting eight seats next year, thus creating a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority, is unlikely, even though they have many credible targets. On the other hand, the Senate map is so daunting for Democrats that just not losing any seats will require an enormous amount of effort and luck.”

Democrats can draw some encouragement from Jennifer Steinhauer’s New York Times article, “G.O.P.’s Grand Visions for Congress Now Look Like a Mirage,” which reviews the toll taken by Democratic resistance to Trump’s agenda and growing disenchantment with it among Republicans. In stark contrast, notes Steinhauer, “At this point in Barack Obama’s presidency, when Democrats controlled Washington, Congress had passed a stimulus bill totaling nearly $1 trillion to address the financial crisis, approved a measure preventing pay discrimination, expanded a children’s health insurance program, and begun laying the groundwork for major health care and financial regulation bills.”

In his Washington Post op-ed, “Just resisting Trump won’t do enough for Democrats,” Democracy Alliance founder Rob Stein makes some notable a points, including “Republicans and their allies — most notably the network of wealthy donors organized by the Koch brothers — have created formidable political operations that execute these functions with great skill and precision in more than 30 states. Democrats have permanent, well-managed and well-financed electoral capacity in less than a handful of states…This dire political imbalance contributed to the Trump victory last year. He did not need his own “ground game” in 2016. He rode to power on the voter mobilization coattails of the Republican right’s multistate political juggernaut, which maximized Republican voter turnout in every key battleground state.”


Political Strategy Notes

Some insights from Frank Bruni’s NYT column, “Are Democrats Falling Into Trump’s Trap?“: “..The party has problems, underscored by its general inability to be as succinct and blunt as Trump is…Yelling has an impact, but it takes you only so far if you don’t choose your battles, marshal your fiercest energy for ones that can yield concrete results, and buckle down to the nitty-gritty of electing legislators who can actually vote against Trump’s worst initiatives in numbers that exceed those of his abettors…Practicality is crucial. Proportionality, too. When you treat every last tweet of Trump’s as if it’s the botched operation in Yemen, voters lose sight of the botched operation in Yemen. Trump provokes ire by the minute, but the response needs to be fashioned by the day or even week, lest everything blur. Resistance is a dish best served with discernment. Too much salt and you can’t taste the food itself…Opposition to him crowded out support for anything else. Every negative moment came at the expense of a positive one.”

“The outlines of a meaningful blueprint for resisting Trump are now taking shape,” writes Greg Sargent at The Plum Line.” Sargent offer five components of the blueprint. Here is #3: “Fight hard in the Senate with all available procedural weapons. Congressional scholar Sarah Binder has a good piece Friday that details all the procedural tools that Senate Democrats can use to “focus attention on controversial parts of the president’s agenda and force Republicans to cast potentially unpopular votes.” They can also “offer unrelated amendments to bills under debate, affording Democrats the chance to create discord among Republicans and between Republican senators and the White House.” Democrats will lose a lot of legislative battles, but they have all kinds of means at their disposal to try to throw the actual GOP agenda into sharper relief in the eyes of the public.”

“If there is one silver bullet that could fix American democracy, it’s getting rid of gerrymandering – the now commonplace practice of drawing electoral districts in a distorted way for partisan gain. It’s also one of a dwindling number of issues that principled citizens – Democrat and Republican – should be able to agree on. Indeed, polls confirm that an overwhelming majority of Americans of all stripes oppose gerrymandering…Last year, only 17 seats out of 435 races were decided by a margin of 5 percent or less. Just 33 seats in total were decided by a margin of 10 percent or less. In other words, more than 9 out of 10 House races were landslides where the campaign was a foregone conclusion before ballots were even cast. In 2016, there were no truly competitive Congressional races in 42 of the 50 states…While no party is innocent when it comes to gerrymandering, a Washington Post analysis in 2014 found that eight of the ten most gerrymandered districts in the United States were drawn by Republicans.” — from “Gerrymandering is the biggest obstacle to genuine democracy in the United States. So why is no one protesting?”  by Brian Klaas, author of The Despot’s Accomplice: How the West is Aiding & Abetting the Decline of Democracy.

E. J. Dionne, Jr. previews “The Next GOP Assasault on Voting Rights.” Dionne writes, ““Justice [John] Roberts, then-Judge Roberts, assured us he would call balls and strikes,” Schumer said. “He gets in office, and his court does Citizens United, a huge break with precedent that ruins, ruins the politics of America. He repeals, basically, the Voting Rights Act by eliminating Section 5 . . . and I am very worried that Judge Gorsuch is similar…The court’s action on voting rights made it far harder to police abuses, while Citizens United undercut the regulation of big money in politics. So if you wonder why there is skepticism among liberals about Gorsuch, consider what conservative Supreme Court justices have already done. Think also about what it would mean to have a Supreme Court, an attorney general and a Congress all prepared to gut what had long been the basic rules of democracy. Bill Keating is not alone in his nightmares.”

In his Daily Beast post, “To Bork or Not to Bork? The Old Fight That Shows Democrats Why, and How, to Stop Gorsuch,” Julian Zelizer argues that Democrats who want to defeat the Gorsuch nomination have a real chance — if they study the leadership and tactics Sen. Edward Kennedy leveraged in the successful 1987 battle against the Bord nomination(which Coretta Scotrt King also supported).

In his AFL-CIO Now post, “Did Someone Just Say ‘Industrial Policy’?,” Stan Sorscher presents a range of interesting measures, which could give Democrats soem needed credibility. A couple of examples: “Large companies can entice states into bidding wars for a new facility. Instead of bidding wars, states could establish economic development funds. Washington State and California have billion-dollar initiatives targeted at biotech. Washington’s fund solicits bids from all companies for a portion of the development fund. Each bid is scored according to measures of public good, such as the number of family-wage jobs with benefits, or investment in plant and equipment. We could also require a commitment (subject to clawbacks) to maintain employment for a minimum period of time. This industrial policy reverses the power relationship between states and companies. Now, states have a scarce resource—access to the fund—and companies bid against each other for the scarce public resource…Companies should state in their annual tax filings how many workers they employ in the U.S. and how many in other countries.”

At a Northampton, Massachusetts town hall, Rep. Jim McGovern, who has earned the respect of progressives, urges his fellow Democrats to embrace the ‘big tent’ philosophy that gives the party its diversity and the cedibility that comes with it, reports Mary Serreze at masslive.com. “A young woman stepped to the microphone to say that Washington Democrats are not doing enough. She called for Trump to be impeached, and criticized Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren for her vote in support of Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development secretary…McGovern defended his Democratic colleague. “I don’t know anybody who has fought harder for justice and for holding this administration accountable than Elizabeth Warren,” he said…If we are all fractured, and we have all these tests — like, ‘Oh, if you vote the wrong way once on a nominee, then we’re not going to be with you’ — then eventually, you’re not going to have anybody.”

At The Fix Aaron Blake explains “Why Democrats can’t just obstruct their way back into power,”and notes “there is a difference between doing what feels good and what is strategically sound. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said it well this week: “You’ve got to pick which ones you’re going to fight about; not every pitch has to be swung at…53 percent of House districts are Republican and 60 out of 100 senators hail from red states, according to the 2016 election results (in which the GOP, again, lost the popular vote)…Republicans also have more districts “in the bag,” so to speak. Trump won 186 districts by double digits, compared with 171 for Clinton. And he won 211 districts by five or more points, compared with just 185 for Clinton…If we consider every district decided by less than 10 points in 2016 to be a battleground, Democrats need to win more than 60 percent of them to win the House majority back. And if you define the battleground more narrowly as every district decided by five points or fewer, Democrats need to win 85 percent of them…for Democrats, being completely partisan and playing to their base without expanding the party’s appeal has less upside when it comes to winning House and Senate majorities. That’s not to say they can’t do it — just that the strategic road map Republicans used doesn’t necessarily apply to Democrats.”

Benjamin Ross makes an interesting point about the problem with using education only as a metric for defining the ‘working-class’ in his Dissent article “The Lemming Democrats.” As Ross writes, “The working class is defined by education: Lumping voters together by education is a convenient way to interpret polls, which measure income imperfectly or not at all. But it loses meaning as college attendance rates rise while low pay, high rents, and student loan debt put recent graduates in a financial squeeze. As the Clinton-Sanders primaries showed, college grads are sharply divided along lines of age and income. Issues that appeal to rising Ivy-League professionals may leave the less affluent cold…To create a governing majority, the party must rebuild its coalition around a common program. It must—without lessening its commitment to racial justice and gender equality—make economic inequity its core message, and it must be seen to do so…No current voting constituencies need be written off. The same kitchen-table economic concerns motivate less affluent voters of all races and ethnicities–often more so than appeals to separate group identities. Educated professionals, too, see their retirement savings skimmed by Wall Street predators and their health endangered by for-profit medicine.”


Political Strategy Notes

At The Atlantic Megan Garber writes “‘Nevertheless, She Persisted’ and the Age of the Weaponized Meme: Mitch McConnell silenced Elizabeth Warren in the Senate chamber. That only made her voice louder.” Even though Sessions was confirmed, Mitch has clearly stepped in it, branding himself as America’s free speech suppressor-in-chief, as well as the new poster boy for men who think they can make women shut up. He probably multiplied the number of people who read Mrs. King’s testimony against Sessions exponentially and gave Warren’s rep as the Senate’s toughest-talking Democrat a big boost. As Garber explains, “it hit something else, too: all the notes that allow shared words to swell into shared emotion. You couldn’t have designed better fodder for a meme had you tried. “Nevertheless, she persisted” has, on the one hand, the impish irony of a powerful person’s words being used against him. It has, on the other, words that are elegant in their brevity, making them especially fit for tweets and slogans and mugs. And it has, too, words that are particularly poetic, rendered in near-iambic pentameter, with the key verb of their accusation—“persisted”—neatly rhyming with that other key verb: “resisted.” The whole thing was, for Warren, a perfect storm. It was, for McConnell, a decidedly imperfect one.”

But it would be unfair to blame the entire disaster on Mitch the Muzzler. As Pema Levy notes at Mother Jones, “Republicans, who control the chamber, provided 49 votes to rule her out of order, and Warren was forbidden to speak for the rest of the debate.”

While the media was yammering about the latest Trump/Bannon/Conway/McConnell outrages, “House Republicans Just Voted to Eliminate the Only Federal Agency That Makes Sure Voting Machines Can’t Be Hacked: Republicans would make it easier to steal an election by killing the Election Assistance Commission,” reports Ari Berman at The Nation. Berman writes, “Thirty-eight pro-democracy groups, including the NAACP and Common Cause, denounced the vote. “The EAC is the only federal agency which has as its central mission the improvement of election administration, and it undertakes essential activities that no other institution is equipped to address,” says the Brennan Center for Justice.”

In Heather Caygle’s Politico post, “House Democrats seize on anti-Trump strategy,” she writes: “House Democrats’ strategy is basically this: They’ll publicly goad Trump on subjects he’s clearly sensitive about, like insinuating he’s being blackmailed by Russian President Vladimir Putin; and on other issues, like Obamacare and tax reform, they’ll get out of the way and let Trump and House Republicans fall on their face…House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairwoman Linda Sánchez of California on Wednesday summed up the strategy this way: “kicking a little ass for the working class.” All well and good, but Dems also need a strategy to improve their image.

At Roll Call Simone Pathe’s “NRCC Goes After Blue-Collar Districts in 2018” identifies the 36 House districts where the GOP will be allocating most of its resources.

The New York Times has a ‘Room for Debate’ feature, entitled “When Do Consumer Boycotts Work?‘ The discussion suffers from having just two pro-corporate presenters for a topic that merits a much more intensive and diverse exploration, particularly at a time when many progressives are looking for new forms of activism that are beyond the reach of politicians.  One of the more interesting insights in the feature comes from Judith Samuelson’s comment, “The power and speed of social media has allowed campaigns to evolve from focusing on the consequences of a product — like the legendary Nestlé infant formula boycott in the 1970s — to labor-related issues that are within the control of the corporation. From there, they have spread to include more complex global concerns like child labor and climate change. Boycotts over an issue like deforestation could require a radical kind of agency from a company if it had to disrupt its entire supply chain to make real progress.” Might social media improve prospects for boycotts of companies like AT&T,  ExxonMobile or State Farm, which are active Board Members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that specializes in providing ‘template bills’ for state laws favoring voter suppression, deregulation, protecting polluting companies and weakening unions?

Apparently it wasn’t enough that President Obama saved the world economy, oversaw the longest stretch of private sector job growth in U.S. history, passed the first major health care reforms since LBJ and provided a matchless example of dignity and scandal-free government. Now come the finger-pointers to fault him for Democratic seat losses in the House, Senate, Governorships and state legislatures during his Administration, as if it was all his fault. With benefit of hindsight, sure he could have stumped more for Democratic candidates, raised more dough for Democrats and paid more attention to party-building projects. But let’s not blame him for the glaring weaknesses of the Democratic Party, which were present  long before his political career began. Gabriel Debenedetti’s Politico post “Obama’s party-building legacy splits Democrats” explores the issue and possible future contributions from President Obama, whose example continues to brighten in stark comparison to the current White House occupant.

At The Daily 202, James Hohman discusses the growing doubts about the wisdom of Obamacare repeal  shared by Republican leaders, as well as their constituents, and notes, “Many Republican politicians are speaking pretty openly about the political danger of scaling back coverage. Lawmakers are getting  nervous about facing the kind of contentious town halls that their Democratic counterparts faced in 2009. Several members have already faced  big crowds of angry activists back home. “I’m not sure you’re going to have anyone in Washington with the courage to repeal the ACA,” Maine Gov. Paul LePage said at a town hall meeting last week.”

Here’s an interesting idea for government workers who can’t in good conscience enforce Trump’s executive orders. Call it ‘The Bartelby Strategy,” as does Judith Levine in The Boston Review. Levine quotes from a Facebook post by Chapo Trap House podcast cohost Will Menaker: “Every one of these objectively monstrous, cowardly and evil executive orders issued this week depend on the acquiescence of thousands of federal employees and bureaucrats to carry them out. They, and all of us, must get used to monkey wrenching all of this. If the Democratic leadership wanted to really be “The Resistance” they would hold a press conference and encourage all federal employees to passively resist or openly sabotage their new bosses.” That or a slow-down.


Skocpol: Helping Protests Become a Movement with Political Clout

At Democracy: a Journal of Ideas editor Michael Tomasky interviews Theda Skocpol, co-author with Vanessa Williamson of The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism and many other works on social policy. Some excerpts from Skocpol’s comments on the best focus and organizational strategy to empower Democrats to win elections going forward:

…I think these women’s marches were a promising start but people have to realize that this is a marathon not a sprint, and they really do need to organize where they are. And I’ve been thinking a lot—people wrote to me after I published my piece in Vox about the Democratic Party and they said well, what can I do, I live in a blue state, I live in a blue district. And there, I think there needs to be some creativity. People need to sit themselves down and think: Well, who do I know who lives somewhere else? We all do—we have relatives, we have friends, we have coworkers—and establish an ongoing dialogue with them in which you’re providing them some kind of perspective on what may be unfolding on health care, or do you know people in your community with green cards who are frightened?

Get the stories out lots of places and maybe encourage and help people you know elsewhere to do their thing with their representatives, their local community. And the other thing is I think liberal cities, instead of forming a tie to some place in Latin America, should form a partnership, if you’ve got a local Democratic Party committee, form a partnership with a Democratic Party committee somewhere else. Have a partnership, get to know them, help them with resources, listen to what they say about the issues playing out in their area, because I think there is a liberal bubble and I am very worried, I am quite certain that Steve Bannon knows this and he’s going to try to get the left to go crazy…In other words, Cambridge, Mass’s Democratic Committee should be working with one in Iowa or one in Georgia. Or, for that matter, in western Massachusetts. You know, in a lot of these states like Pennsylvania, the Trump people are all over the place.

…The meetings were usually organized around some speaker that came in to talk. There wasn’t as much kind of honest discussion as you’re going to see in any center-left setting. Just because of the nature of the people, etc. But they kind of tried to familiarize themselves with certain kinds of issues and then they disseminated to their networks very specific and very powerful information about whose on what committees, when you would want to contact people in your state legislature or in Congress.

We were just bowled over, we said this in the Tea Party book, about how much these people knew, not about the content of politics—they were watching Fox News, and they had completely false ideas about what government was doing, etc. But they had really rich and specific information about the local Republican Party rules and how you could go and change that or which committees their state representatives as well as their Congress people were on and when you needed to contact them. They knew the nuts and bolts of local and state politics, as well as congressional politics. They were not simply focused on sending messages to presidents or presidential candidates, which is what Democrats tend to be. Democrats are obsessed with Washington, D.C. and presidential politics

…The Women’s March was very hopeful, and it was hopeful precisely because it was spread out. I have some faith that women, probably not just Democrats or progressives, self-stylized, but women just who are upset at various things are going to be good at networking and forming some kind of oppositional groups and, you know, some of the things that are happening…There are certain issues that I think need to be front and center. Understanding exactly the implications of the huge transformations in health insurance that these people are proposing is a great one because it cuts across many kinds of districts and will involve many kinds of people. The immigration one is good in the sense that you can tell stories about affected families everywhere given the bungling focus. And I think that’s where the focus should be; the focus should be on telling the stories of actual people. Women may be good at that…

I don’t want to hear anything more about electoral college reform, getting money out of politics. All these procedural fixes that the wealthy on the left are fixated on…The horse has left the barn; it’s too late. Unless there’s electoral turn-around starting in 2017 and ’18, in which Democrats are winning, this thing could lock in.

So the number one thing has to be signing up people to vote and getting them out to vote. Assuming that the courts are going to fix the voting system: Forget it. I mean they’re not, not on the timescale that’s needed…I’m talking to wealthy progressives and trying to convince them to stop giving all their money to this or that procedural fix…I was disappointed that Barack Obama framed it as gerrymandering reform. I hope you’re aware that the best studies show that only half of the problem of the mismatch between Democratic numbers and Democratic legislative results would be solved by gerrymandering reform if it happened universally and perfectly. Half of the problem is the concentration of Democratic constituencies in big cities.

There’s quite a lot for Democrats to debate about here. But Skocpol is surely right that what Democrats must immediately agree to act on is mobilizing voter registration and turnout.

For some new data which shows which states excelled in voter turnout in 2016 and which ones failed, click here.


Political Strategy Notes

For an indication of the power of Facebook in building opposition to the nomination of Betsy Devos as Secretary of Education, read “Social Media Playing Important Role in Democrats’ Strategy” by Natalie Andrews at The Wall St. Journal: “After Ms. DeVos’s confirmation hearing on Jan. 17, Senate Democrats posted short clips online of some of the comments she made under questioning. Two clips posted on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Facebook page picked up more than 34 million views…Liberal groups started targeting two Republican senators who they believed might be swayed to oppose Ms. DeVos, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Memes spread on Facebook with their phone numbers…A petition on progressive group CREDO’s site picked up more than 1.4 million signatures, besting the record set by a petition opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline…Ms. Murkowski said she’d heard from thousands of Alaskans about the Gorsuch nomination.”

In this short NPR interview Sen. Chris Van Hollen, chair of the Senate Democrats Campaign Committee,  puts needed emphasis on the anti-worker track record of Trump Supreme Court nominee  Neil Gorsuch. “I can tell you my early investigation leads to some troubling conclusions about him siding with corporate interests over working people and consumers,” says Van Hollen, regarded as a potential 2020 presidential candidate. Asked by interviewer Scott Simon if he anticipates strong opposition to Gorsuch in the hearings, Van Hollen replied, “Well, it’s not going to be moved along if people determine that this judge is outside the mainstream and is effectively going to harm working people at the expense of – and support big corporate interests. Look, I think, Scott, the American public understands that Senate Democrats are the last line of defense between the Donald Trump administration and a lot of bad things happening, including the effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, including the effort to turn the keys of the economy back over to Wall Street.”

At The New Yorker John Cassidy asks “Have the Democrats Got the Right Supreme Court Strategy” and reports that key Democrats are focusing on Gorsuch’s rulings to disempower workers, as well as his problematice record omn womens rights and the environment: “While Merkley concentrated on the larger picture, his frequent ally Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, took Gorsuch and his record to task. “As a judge, he has twisted himself into a pretzel to make sure the rules favor giant companies over workers and individual Americans,” Warren said in a statement.“He has sided with employers who deny wages, improperly fire workers, or retaliate against whistleblowers for misconduct. He has ruled against workers in all manner of discrimination cases…As Schumer and Warren indicated, he has frequently ruled in favor of businesses.”

While nearly all Democrats are expected to vote against the Gorsuch nomination, Dems have some divisions about whether to allow hearings or filibuster and obstruct the nomination at every juncture of the process. Most of the nine Senate Dems in 2016 red states tend to favor the hearings, while those with ‘safer’ seats want to give Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a taste of his obstructionist medicine. Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan report at Politico on Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s efforts to juggle the concerns of the two camps and mount the most effective opposition to Gorsuch. They note one key strategic concern: Democrats are worried, multiple aides said, about Republicans having an excuse to kill the filibuster on the Supreme Court now, and later use it to ram through an even more conservative nominee if there is another vacancy during Trump’s presidency…Senate Democrats are “creating a totally unnecessary rift with the base and inviting primary challenges for many members who don’t deserve them,” said one leader of a progressive group, worried over Democrats’ being perceived as centrists for considering Trump’s nominee.”

Eric Bradner’s CNN Politics post, “Is anti-Trump furor papering over Democrats’ working-class woes?” includes this warning against spending too much time worrying about the white working-class: “Those working-class white voters aren’t the future of the party,” said Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the liberal blog DailyKos.com, which has already raised $400,000 for a Democratic candidate in the expected runoff for the US House seat in Georgia soon to be vacated by Tom Price, Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary…They’re lost. It’s a waste of time to try and win them back when there are so many core-Democratic-base who didn’t register or vote last cycle. Almost half the country didn’t vote, and the bulk of the non-voters were liberal-leaning people many of them now marching in the streets…So instead of trying to chase people trapped by Breitbart and its cohorts in conservative media, give them a reason to get excited about rallying around Democrats”…Moulitsas said red-state Democrats should forget using those votes to try to prove themselves as moderates…”The best chance they have to win in their tough states will be by riding this incredible wave of energy. It may not be enough, but pissing off the base certainly isn’t the better bet. You either ride in with the people who brought you, or go down fighting honorably,” Moulitsas said. “Pretending to be a ‘Republican, but a little less bad’ has never inspired a dramatic re-election victory.”

In his salon.com post, “As Democrats turn their attention to 2018, getting “marginal voters” to turn out will be crucial,” Sean McElwee takes an in-depth look at a critical constiuency for Democrats, “people who voted in the 2012 presidential election, but failed to turn out to vote in 2014,” and argues, “How can Democrats maximize their chances? First, they need to get the basics right. They should target widely because it’s impossible to know where the floor is for Trump. They don’t want to be in a situation where new terrain opens up and they’re unprepared. They need to start winning back state-level and county-level positions that feed into higher office. They’ll need money and an aggressive recruitment strategy to get good candidates to run. But, ultimately, the 2018 election, like all others, will be determined by who shows up. The Democratic Party must make a concerted effort to target the voters who have voted in presidential elections but stay home during the midterms…In the end, 76 percent of registered Democrats voted in the 2014 election, compared to 84 percent of registered Republicans. If Democrats want to seize on Trump’s unpopularity, they need to find a way to get these presidential voters to turn out in the off-cycle election. Donald Trump will probably help.”

Amber Phillips notes at The Fix, “Progressive ballot initiatives have had fantastic success over the years, even in Republican states. Over the past two decades, initiatives to raise the minimum wage has rarely lost when put to the voter. This past November was no exception; minimum wage ballot measures in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington passed by a larger margin than the winning presidential candidate, according to The Fairness Project, which advocates for higher minimum wage laws…Voters in eight of nine states voted to ease restrictions on marijuana and three of four states voted to put in place gun restrictions.”

“Democrats need to stop the bleeding with working-class whites. But that’s only a small piece of the equation. To confront demagoguery and “populist” conservatism, Democrats should create a coalition that combines a diverse electorate with increased margins among college-educated voters. This approach could solve the party’s geographic problems and lead to victory in future elections…Running up the score with college-educated voters could help Democrats win Rust Belt states that were pivotal in 2016…Let’s compare two counties in the Detroit suburbs: Macomb, where only 23% of the population has a bachelor’s degree, and Oakland, where 44% of the population does. Hillary Clinton maintained Barack Obama’s 8% margin in Oakland County, a historically Republican suburb, while Macomb went from a 4% edge for Obama to a 12% advantage for Trump. Post-mortems of the presidential campaign focused on the drift away from Democrats in Macomb. But about a decade ago, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg pointed out that the future for Democrats lies in Oakland. Because the county is far more populous than Macomb, a mere 2% increase in Clinton’s margin there would have erased her 10,704 statewide deficit, and put Michigan in her column.” — from “The best way forward for Democrats: Target well-educated voters” by Matthew Rey, a partner at Red Horse Strategies in the Los Angeles Times.

This may not be the most dignified protest demonstration designed to urge Trump to release his tax forms like all other modern era presidents have done. But credit the organizers with a creative idea for a photo-op and a catchy slogan.