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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Greenberg: Mid-terms Can Launch New Era of Progressive Reform

In Stan Greenberg’s article, “How the US mid-terms could kickstart a new era of progressive reform” at Prospect, he provides an optimistic scenario for Democrats:November’s vote will almost certainly kick off a new progressive era of reform, much like the cluster of elections, starting with the 1910 mid-terms, which launched America’s first progressive era.” Further,

A new American majority has been growing now for some time. It is composed of black people, Hispanics and Asians, unmarried women and millennials. Already by the 2012 election, these Americans collectively comprised 53 per cent of the electorate, rising to 54 per cent by 2016, and by 2020 this majority should reach 56 per cent. What I labelled the “rising American electorate” was poised in 2016 to form part of a progressive coalition with the growing number of well-educated suburban voter and college-educated women, while also running respectably with white working class women. That coalition should have readily defeated Trump and put Democrats in power.

Yet, as Greenberg has noted eslewhere, Hillary Clinton’s failure to campaign energetically in white working class communities in Pennsylvania, Florida and the midwestern rustbelt proved a pivotal mistake, as Trump got enough votes in those areas to win the Electoral College. Greenberg believes both Clinton and Obama failed to “understand what was happening in America and the deep, persistent resentments caused by the financial crisis after 2008.”

With benefit of hindsight, Obama could have been tougher on the financial elites and helped to strengthen the Democrats’s brand as the party of working people. He was able to get re-elected anyway, thanks to his strong appeal to African American voters and his ability to win a larger share of white working-class voters than did Clinton, who had lost credibility with this consituency as a result of her associations with wealthy elites and decades of hammering GOP’s attacks on her character. As Greenberg explains,

Their own constituency of voters—and the US public more broadly—was incensed by the continued corporate dominance of American life. They were disgusted by over-paid CEOs who had betrayed their employees and their country, and by the corruption of Wall Street and Washington that rigged the political game, even as wages and wealth had crashed for most Americans. Obama bailed out the banks and auto industry and guaranteed the bosses’ bonuses, but did nothing for homeowners. Nobody went to jail.

Despite all of the impressive achievements of President Obama, including saving the economy from an all-out depression and the most significant health care reform since President Johnson, Obama was unable to provide the leadership needed to adequately strengthen Democratic credibility with the white working-class. To be fair, he faced the most intransigent Republican leadership in a generation, who refused all compromises, with their stated purpose of limiting his accomplishments. As a result,

Democrats lost among white working class voters in 2010 by 64 to 34 per cent, and by a similar margin among white seniors. They also failed to dominate sections of the vote where they should have cleaned up. Republicans won over 40 per cent of votes among millennials and unmarried women. Critically, turnout in these groups dropped or stayed flat in comparison to previous mid-term years.

In 2018, however, Greenberg argues that Democrats have a unique opportunity, because “All the ingredients that gave the Republicans a 2010 Tea Party wave are poised to produce a Democratic 2018 wave, with similar implications for Congress and state and local offices. These are the building blocks of a durable majority.” Greenberg notes further,

In the 2017 special elections, as well as in our most recent national polls, support for Democrats has reached over 90 per cent with African Americans, 65 per cent with Hispanics, 67 per cent with unmarried women and 75 per cent with millennial women. For all of them, the battle with Trump and Tea Party Republicans has made clear what they believe, what values are at stake and how much politics matters.

It sounds like a winning formula is shaping up nicely for Democrats. Assuming the “resistance” energy can be mobilized into turning out the voters who now see the Republicans as the party of wealthy elites who are ripping off working families, Greenberg’s informed analysis looks like a very good bet: “The coming wave could wipe away the Tea Party wave and counter-revolution. And that will mark the beginning of a new era of reform.”

New Coalition Focuses on Better Democratic Messaging

James Hohman’s Daily 202 post, “New coalition aims to improve Democratic messaging against Trump,” focuses more broadly than the title would suggest on developing better Democraric messaging against Republican policies, beginning with the economy and corruption. As Hohman explains,

Many Democratic talking heads make weak arguments on television that fail to move voters. To address this, several groups and top pollsters on the left are teaming up to launch a new project that will conduct surveys and convene focus groups to produce monthly guidance with the most politically potent lines of attack against President Trump and congressional Republicans.

This new initiative, which has not been previously reported, will be called Navigator Research. The debut report, shared first with The Daily 202, offers original polling and talking points related to the economy, political corruption and disruption.

Key players in the new coalition include Jefrey Pollock, the president of Global Strategy Group, Pollock’s partner Nick Gourevitch and Margie Omero from GBA Strategies, along with veterans of the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigns. Members of the group’s advisory council include AFL-CIO political director Mike Podhorzer, the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Navin Nayak, Emily’s List’s Christina Reynolds, the Latino Victory Project’s Stephanie Valencia and the Roosevelt Institute’s Felicia Wong. Also on the board are Arkadi Gerney from The Hub Project, Delvone Michael from Working Families and Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Biden and Gore and Gore’s lawyer during the Florida recount.

Boiling down the group’s mission, Pollock said, “For years, Republican politicians have been better at paying attention to language cues. We’re trying to do a progressive version of that.”

Navigator’s inaugural edition features findings from a national online survey of 1,009 registered voters conducted April 3-5, 2018. It also includes findings from an online discussion board of 25 voters who are not strong partisans, conducted March 22-23, 2018. Among the conclusions of the first study, 67 percent, or about 2 out of 3 respondents agreed that “The economy may be growing but wealthy people at the top are getting somuch more of the benefit than middleclass and working people,” vs. only 33 percent who said “Things are generally going well economically – the national economy is booming, the stock market is hitting record highs, and business- es are creating new jobs all the time.” Only 37 percent agreed that “The economy might be better in the country as a whole, but in my community, many people are still struggling to pay their bills and keep up a decent standard of living,” while 63 percent preferred “The economy may be growing but wealthy people at the top are getting allthe benefit, while the middle class andworking people are falling further behind.” Further, “This research finds more Americans are worried and uncertain (61%) than are confident and optimistic (39%) about the future of the economy.”

With respect to corruption, the survey indicated that 49 percent agreed that Republicans in congress are “more likely to use government to personally enrich themselves,” compared to 34 percent who said the same about Democrats in Congress and 17 percent who said ‘nether’ — almost exactly the same breakdown when the question  was “Which is more likely to use government to personally enrich their biggest campaign donors?”

 Economic inequality and political corruption may be the two issues which most favor Democrats over the GOP, which has done a superb job of re-branding itself as the party of greed in recent years. Navigator Research’s new findings affirm the Democratic edge on these two concerns, and we look forward to the messages they develop to help Democratic candidates win the midterm electioins.

Teixeira: New Report on America’s Electoral Future: Demographic Shifts and the Future of the Trump Coalition

The following post by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis (cross-posted from his facebook page):

The big report on American’s Electoral Future is out!

Just released! Here’s a key bit from the report but please check out the whole thing. There’s a lot of grist for your mill, no matter what kind of mill you’re working with.

“The wide range of scenarios considered here mostly have Democrats in 2020 maintaining and, in many cases, strengthening their popular vote victory from 2016. Indeed, in only two cases do the authors actually see a Republican popular vote victory in 2020: a 10-point pro-GOP margin swing white noncollege-educated voters and a 10-point pro-GOP margin swing among white college graduates—and, in the latter case, only if the third-party vote is reallocated.

Since Democrats registered popular vote advantages in almost all scenarios in 2020, it should be no surprise that they do so for later elections as well. In the projections that show a Democrat popular vote advantage in 2020, Democrats achieve even greater margins in each subsequent election as the projected demographic makeup of the eligible electorate continues to shift in a direction generally favorable to Democrats.

But, critically, it is electoral votes based on state outcomes, not the nationwide popular vote, that determine the winner in presidential elections. As this discussion details, many Democratic popular vote victories in these simulations do not translate into Democratic electoral vote victories.

In the 2020 election, these simulations include a scenario where Republicans gain a 15-point margin swing in their favor among Latinos, Asians, and those of other races, and a number of scenarios where the education gap among whites plays a key role. The following scenarios result in a GOP Electoral College victory but a popular vote loss: The GOP gets a 5-point margin swing from white noncollege-educated voters twinned with an equal swing toward the Democrats among white college-educated voters; a 10-point swing in Republicans’ favor among white college graduates; and a reversion to 2012 support margins among white college-educated voters. The exception to this pattern is the scenario in which Republicans gain a 10-point margin swing from white noncollege-educated voters, where the GOP carries both the Electoral College and the popular vote. Finally, simply leaving turnout and voter preferences as they were in 2016 while demographic change continues, yields a probable Republican Electoral College victory—though popular vote loss—if the third-party vote reverts to 2012 levels.

Thus, the GOP has many roads to the presidency in 2020 even though demographic shifts appear to make a Democratic popular vote victory easier than ever to obtain. Even more interesting, some of these fruitful scenarios continue to produce Republican electoral vote triumphs in 2024 and beyond, despite mounting popular vote losses.”

Read the entire report here.

C-SPAN Presents Video of Conference on Demographic Change and Future Elections

From Ruy Teixeira’s introduction: “Demographic Shifts and the Future of the Trump Coalition: The Movie. The folks at C-Span were kind enough to film our conference today at the Bipartisan Policy Center so it is available for viewing in its entirety. If I do say so myself it was a very, very good conference, crisp presentations and discussions, no filler!”

The program:

Location: Bipartisan Policy Center: 1225 Eye Street NW, Suite #1000

Opening Remarks:
John C. Fortier, Director of the Democracy Project, Bipartisan Policy Center

Ruy Teixeira, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
William H. Frey, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Rob Griffin, Associate Director of Research, PRRI

Panel I:
Ruy Teixeira, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
William H. Frey, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Amy Walter , National Editor, Cook Political Report
Mark Hugo Lopez, Director of Hispanic Research, Pew Research Center
Matt Morrison , Executive Director, Working America
Moderator: Rob Griffin, Associate Director of Research, PRRI

Panel II:
Ruy Teixeira, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Anna Greenberg,Partner, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research
Sean Trende, Senior Elections Analyst, RealClearPolitics
Moderator: John C. Fortier, Director of the Democracy Project, Bipartisan Policy Center

View the video here.

Greenberg and Weingarten: Dems Gain ‘Stunning New Breakthroughs’ by Running on Economy, Tax Cut

This important new article, “The Democratic opportunity on the economy and tax cuts: Message memo based on new national polling and focus groups” by Stanley Greenberg of Greenberg Research and Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers, is cross-posted from Democracy Corps:

The midterm election is starting to break against Donald Trump and the Republican Party in pro- found ways and running on the economy and the new tax cut helps further solidify advantages for Democrats.1 This is according to a new AFT-Democracy Corps national phone poll and deep focus group research on the economy, President Trump, the new tax cuts, and strategies for 2018.

The results of this AFT-Democracy Corps poll reflect the same conditions witnessed in the real world of special elections where Democrats have won: differential enthusiasm, but also some movement of Trump voters. Democrats hold a 10-point lead in the generic vote in this poll, pro- duced by strong leads with people of color, millennial women, unmarried women, and college women. This poll also shows stunning new breakthroughs with seniors, where Democrats are ahead, and the white working class, which has now fractured along gender lines.

Big gaps in intensity and enthusiasm are an inescapable party of the story. Democrats’ strong disapproval of Trump exceeds Republicans’ strong approval of Trump by almost 30 points, and the generic margin grows to a stunning 16-points among the 50 percent of registered voters with the highest interest in the 2018 election. That reflects the enthusiasm gap witnessed in the grow- ing number of special election victories and we take that seriously.

Conservatives and pundits are hoping two factors mitigate against the realization of a Democratic wave: one is the strength of the macro-economy and the other is the new tax cut, both of which they believe are producing real benefits for ordinary Americans. Based on our qualitative and quantitative research, AFT and Democracy Corps think that assumption is wrong. But only if Democrats embrace the fact that the economy is not producing for working and middle class people whose wage increases are not keeping up with rising costs, particularly the cost of health care; if they make clear this tax cut is ‘rigged for the rich’ at the expense of everyone else; andthat the huge cost of the tax cuts means less investment in education, healthcare and infrastruc- ture and imminent cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.


The economy isn’t very strong for families like mine because our salaries and incomes can’t keep up with the cost of living.


Deficit + entitlement cuts: Adds $1.5 trillion to the deficit and now Donald Trump & Repub- licans say we must pay for it with cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Costs + loss of investment: Costs $2.2 trillion over the next decade which could have funded public schools, health care or infrastructure.


Prioritize investment: The tax law costs $2.2 trillion over the next decade, which means even less funding for investments the middle class needs for a better future. Instead of a law that gives 83 percent of the cuts to the top 1 percent, that money should be used to invest in our public schools and infrastructure and bring down health care costs.

It is important that Democrats make a powerful economic argument to give their tax message context. Defining the tax cut as “rigged for the rich” – the most powerful slogan tested – is the right tactic, but what gives it power is articulating what is really happening in the economy and how this government is threatening things that matter to them that progressives would protect.

Democratic voters are desperate for their party to join this debate: when they hear it simulated in this survey, their enthusiasm for voting and opposition to the tax cut grew even further. Opposi- tion to the tax cut also grew among swing groups including independents, undecided voters, sen- iors and white working class women. Democrats should embrace this debate.

1 In partnership with American Federation of Teachers, Democracy Corps conducted a national phone survey from March 25 – April 2, 2018 among 1,000 registered voters from a voter-file sample. The margin of error for the full sample is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Of the 1,000 respondents, 53 percent were interviewed via cell phone to accurately sample the electorate. The phone survey was preceded by focus groups on March 7-9, 2018 among white working-class Obama-Trump voters and Trump-Democrats in Macomb County, MI, African American women from Detroit, MI and White college-graduate women from Southfield, MI.

(Read More here)

Meyerson: Young Workers, Social Media Key to Reviving Unions in U.S.

Harold Meyerson shares some provocative insights in his article “What Now for Unions?” in The American Prospect, including:

Today, both the Gallup and the Pew polls show public support for unions at its highest level in years: 61 percent at Gallup; 60 percent at Pew, a good 20 to 35 percentage points higher than the approval ratings of President Trump and the Republican Congress. Among Americans under 30, unions’ approval rating is a stratospheric 76 percent. As was the case in the 1930s, pro-union sentiment has grown only after the recovery was well under way.

At first glance, young people’s support for unions is puzzling: With union membership down to 10.7 percent of the workforce, and with many states having hardly any union presence, it’s a safe inference that most millennials have had no contact with a union at all. And yet, it’s young workers who are joining unions today, as the successful organizing drives among graduate students and the (disproportionately young) journalists at digital media outlets attest. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, more than three-quarters of new union members in 2017 were under 35.

Meyerson says their support for unions is “rooted in the economic adversities afflicting the young, including employment insecurity, student debt, unaffordable housing, and more. These struggles feed millennials’ apprehensions that the middle class they seek to join is further out of reach for them than it was for their parents and grandparents.” He argues that social media popular with young people, especially Facebook, has been a pivotal asset for energizing union campaigns:

The growing share of union members who are both younger and professional is probably one reason why digital mobilization played such a key role in the West Virginia teachers strike, and is so crucial to similar labor actions in Oklahoma and elsewhere. Nearly all of West Virginia’s 20,000 teachers were signed on to a strike-participation Facebook page leading up to their walkout, and when the two teachers unions in the state struck a deal with the governor to end the strike in return for a promise of a 5 percent raise, it was the spontaneous Facebook-page resistance of teachers—some local union officials, some not—to going back to work before the deal was actually done that prevailed. Both the universal rank-and-file walkout and, then, the universal opposition to returning to work without a deal would have been impossible without Facebook.

Indeed, it’s clear that Facebook provides workers with a form of mobilization that both complements and eclipses unions’ own capacities. West Virginia has only 75,000 dues-paying members in all of its unions, and only a fraction of those are teachers—yet nearly every one of the state’s 20,000 teachers walked off their jobs. In Oklahoma, a state with a unionization rate of just 5.5 percent, and where all unions claim a bare 84,000 members, a Facebook page called “Oklahoma Teacher Walkout—The Time Is Now!,” started by one rank-and-file teacher, has 55,000 members and has been the key instrument for building support for a strike.

Looking ahead, Meyerson argues, “Should the Democrats recapture the federal government after the 2020 elections, they will need to do something that no Democratic Congress has mustered the will to do in the last 70 years: Change labor law to bolster workers’ right to organize—and, if the Democrats can figure out how to do so, do the same for workers who are independent contractors and temps.”

In meeting this challenge, supporters of the restoration of unions in America’s workplaces will find ample support from young workers. As Meyerson concludes, “The anti-plutocratic, pro-democratic politics of the young in particular apply not just to the polity, but to the workplace as well.”

Teixeira: Why California Model Charts a Better Future Than Trump’s GOP

The following post by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis (cross-posted from his facebook page):

I welcome their hatred!

There’s a bit of a kerfuffle about an article I recently wrote with Peter Leyden that was part of our California Is the Future series on Medium. The article, “The Great Lesson of California in America’s New Civil War”, was recently tweeted about by Jack Dorsey, the Twitter CEO, who said it was a “great read”.
Cue the right-wing outrage. Their view is:

1. The fact that the Twitter CEO favorably mentioned our article is irrefutable proof that Twitter is part of a Vast Liberal Conspiracy to promote the left and shut out the right.

2. The article argues that there is a struggle going on for which model America should follow and it will be resolved not by bipartisan compromise but rather by one side triumphing over the other. The article takes the Democrats’ side and sees California as our best current model for where the country is and should be going. The Trump model, closely embraced by today’s Republican Party, must be defeated.
That, according the right wing howls that Dorsey’s tweet has elicited, can only mean we envision turning America over to “mob rule” and a one-party state.

3. Since it is article of right wing faith that California today is a hellhole little better than Venezuela, the very idea of California as a model for America’s future sends them into a tizzy. As the commentator on the conservative Townhall site says: “I’d rather chug bleach”.

Well, that seems a bit over the top. Anyway, I do plead guilty to the idea that California is a way better model for the country’s future than the pronouncements and policies of the today’s Trumpized Republican Party.

Meanwhile, as FDR put it in a different context, I welcome their hatred.

New Poll Shows Complex Attitudes Towards Trump’s Tariffs, Trade War Scare

At The Hill, Jonathan Easley reports that, according to the latest Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll of 1,340 registered voters, “Voters Fear a Trade War,” but also share some concerns about America’s trade deficit with China:

A strong majority of Americans believe the U.S. should take steps to correct its trade deficit with China, but a majority disapprove of President Trump’s proposed tariffs and there are fears that a trade war could damage the economy.

According to the latest Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll, 71 percent of voters say the U.S. should take steps to address a $375 billion trade imbalance with China.

Fifty-two percent disapprove of the administration’s proposed tariffs on aluminum and steel imports, including those from China, and 43 percent said they believe Trump’s proposed tariffs will result in job losses. Thirty-eight percent said the tariffs would protect American jobs and 18 percent said the tariffs would have no impact.

More than two-thirds of voters say they’re concerned countries will retaliate against the U.S., potentially sparking a global trade war.

Yet, “Sixty-one percent of those polled said they approve of using the threat of tariffs to win more favorable terms in trade negotiations,” while “Fifty-five percent believe existing trade agreements cost American jobs.”

Sahil Kapur notes at Bloomberg that “If China follows through on its retaliatory tariffs, they’d be hitting just as campaigns are gearing up for the midterm elections that will decide control of Congress. Republicans already are confronting signs that Democrats have a solid chance to seize control of the majority in the House of Representatives.”

And the stock market decline may help Democrats get some traction with high-turnout senior voters by the midterm elections.

Teixeira: Wide Net Key to Democrats Midterm Hopes

The following post by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis (cross-posted from his facebook page):

More evidence that Democrats should not confine their efforts to affluent suburbia.

One common view on the struggle to reach white working class voters is that it’s just too damn hard. Democrats are making big progress with educated suburbanites, the argument goes, so it makes sense to clean up among these voters and not worry about those other voters who are so much harder to move.

Wrong. That’s what Nathaniel Rakich shows on 538 by digging into the actual data on 2017-18 special elections.

“It hasn’t quite reached the level of accepted conventional wisdom, but a narrative is starting to take hold that Democrats’ best path to a majority in the U.S. House is through the suburbs. We think the jury is still out, and you should be skeptical of these claims. Yes, Democrats have overperformed in the suburbs, but that’s because they’ve overperformed everywhere. If they’ve outperformed expectations among certain demographics more than others — and the picture is far too fuzzy to say for sure if they have — it’s probably been among working-class voters without college degrees.”

It would thus be foolish to concentrate on only certain kinds of districts and ignore others. In reality, the Democrats have reasonable chances in districts with a wide range of demographics. The only real mistake they can make is not to cast their net widely enough to take advantage of these openings.

Why Dem Ad-Buyers Should Check Out ABC’s Tuesday Night Shows

From Bill Keveny’s “Blue-collar TV: ‘Roseanne,’ ‘The Middle’ show working-class muscle in ABC’s Tuesday combo” at USA Today:

ABC has assembled a blue-collar comedy hour that’s likely to become a high-end ratings district, at least for its short duration.

Starting Tuesday, the network will pair Roseanne (8 ET/PT), which made shabby chic with a huge return last week (25 million viewers and counting) and a quick 11th-season renewal, with ninth-season Midwestern neighbor The Middle (8:30 ET/PT), presenting the first of its final six episodes.

The Conners of Roseanne and the Hecks of The Middle have different sensibilities, as evidenced by the lightning-rod reaction to Roseanne star Roseanne Barr. However, both represent a demographic — families surviving paycheck to paycheck, heartland division — that traditionally gets little representation on TV. (But maybe don’t call them proletarians, unless you’re talking to The Middle‘s Brick Heck.)

Keveny also cites ABC’s “Speechless,” NBC’s “Superstore” and Netflix’s “One Day at a Time” as other examples of network shows that are part of  “an uptick in TV characters living paycheck to paycheck” — shows that appeal to working-class families.

The ‘Roseanne’ reboot is getting lots of buzz, owing to the star, Roseanne Barr’s support of Trump. And yes, liberals are often the target of the jokes. But that doesn’t mean well-crafted ads for Democratic candidates won’t be effective, since many voters — and viewers — are conservative on some issues, liberal on others.

While most of these shows have white working-class characters in lead roles, “One Day at a Time” features a Cuban-American family. FX’s  drama, “Atlanta” often spotlights Black working-class characters and families. ‘Paycheck to Paycheck’ families of all races likely cross over in significant numbers to watch these shows.

Despite the increasing role of social media in presenting affordable political ads, television still rules when it comes to reaching massive numbers of voters quickly. In terms of internet political advertising, the Cook Political Report projects “a spend total of $600 million driven mostly by advertising done on Facebook,” compared to “$2.4 billion for local broadcast and $850 million for local cable for 2018.”