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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

TDS Strategy White Papers

The White Working Class is a Decisive Voting Group in 2012 – and Most of What You Read About Their Political Attitudes Will Be Completely Wrong

By Andrew Levison
As Election Day 2012 draws near it will become more and more apparent that the white working class is a pivotal group whose electoral choice will largely determine the outcome. If the percentage of white working class support for Obama remains where it is today, in the low to mid 30’s, an Obama victory will be extremely difficult. If Obama’s level of support rises reasonably close the percentage he received in 2008, Obama’s victory becomes almost certain. As a result, in the weeks between now and November 2nd there will be a huge outpouring of analyses seeking to explain the opinions and likely electoral choices of white working class voters.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of these analyses will be fundamentally wrong.
Read the entire memo.


The Surprising Size of “White Working Class” America – Half of all White Men and 40 Percent of White Women Still Work in Basically Blue-Collar Jobs.

By Andrew Levison
In the last two weeks an energetic argument about voting trends among white “working class” voters and the right way to properly define the group itself has mushroomed across the pages of the New York Times, the U.K. Guardian, The New Republic, The Washington Monthly and a variety of other political journals. The debate is intense and of critical importance because as the 2012 election nears it has become clear that the “base” voters of the Obama coalition– youth, minorities, single women, educated professionals and others are not by themselves sufficient to insure his re-election. By most calculations Obama must win somewhere close to 40% of white “working class” voters (defined as those with less than a four year college degree) in order to win the election. Right now Obama’s support in this group hovers in the low to mid-thirties.
Read the entire memo.


The Conservative “Christianization” of Thomas Jefferson: A New Book Claims America’s Great Champion of Religious Freedom and Tolerance Was Actually Just a Conventionally Devout and Pious Christian. Sadly, Millions of Americans Will Believe It’s True.

by Andrew Levison
David Barton is a well known conservative author and exponent of the “America was originally meant to be a Christian Nation” perspective. His latest book is called The Jefferson Lies–exposing the myths you’ve always believed about Thomas Jefferson.
Aside from some digressions into the subjects of Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemmings and his ownership of slaves, the main thrust of the book is simple. It seeks to show that–aside from what Barton calls a few “nuances of some particular doctrines”–Thomas Jefferson was essentially a conventional, deeply religious Christian.
Read the entire memo.


Why Democrats Should Ignore Swing Voters and Focus on Voter Registration and Mobilization

(Editor’s Note: We are extremely pleased to publish this significant strategic analysis by noted political analyst and TDS contributor Alan Abramowitz, the Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science at Emory University)
With five months to go until Election Day 2012, all indications are that the presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is going to go down to the wire and that the outcome will ultimately be decided by voters in 10-15 battleground states where neither candidate has a significant advantage.
Read the entire memo.


Progressives and Democrats Cannot Possibly Match the Vast Financial Resources of Business and the Wealthy and Must Turn to Building Powerful, Long-Term Grass-roots Organizations. That Makes “Working America” The Most Important Political Project in America

by Andrew Levison
In a May 7th New York Times article Nicholas Confessore dramatically described the profound change in progressive and Democratic strategy that is now being debated among donors, campaign managers and political strategists–a change driven by the overwhelming financial advantage that Citizen’s United has now given business and the wealthy in political advertising.
Read the entire memo.


Obama’s recent State of the Union speech can provide a solution to progressives’ most difficult dilemma in the 2012 election – how to combine legitimate criticism of Obama with active, passionate opposition to Republican extremism.

by James Vega
As progressives face the 2012 elections, they find themselves struggling with a profoundly difficult dilemma.
On the one hand, progressives clearly recognize the extraordinary danger presented by Republican extremism. The possibility of additional conservatives being added to the supreme court is, by itself, more than sufficient reason to conclude that the GOP must not be allowed to win in 2012 but there are equally serious threats to the survival of the New Deal social safety net, to basic worker and citizen rights and, for millions of Americans, to the continued right to vote itself. Both opinion data and progressive commentary show that only a very small fraction of 2008 Democratic voters are willing to sit out the 2012 election or support a Nader-style third party.
Read the entire memo.


Thomas Jefferson’s Religious Philosophy: A Profound and Inspiring Progressive Response to Rick Santorum and the Religious Right

A note from Ed Kilgore:
Rick Santorum’s recent comments on religion have elevated a number of core ideas of the religious right to a central place in the current national debate and have presented progressives and Democrats with a formidable challenge to their views.
In response to this challenge I am pleased to offer the following thought-provoking study of Thomas Jefferson’s religious philosophy as well as a companion communications campaign that illustrates how to put the study’s conclusions into action.
Read the entire memo.


After the primaries Democrats will be on receiving end of a propaganda campaign of a scope and ferocity unparalleled in American history. Dems must anticipate this onslaught and begin now to plan how best to respond.

by Andrew Levison
The Republican primary campaign has provided a foretaste of the bitter and divisive
super-PAC driven media tactics that will be used against Obama in the fall. The fundamental and inescapable fact is that Democrats will be on the receiving end of a propaganda campaign of a scope and ferocity unparalleled in American history. Democrats must begin planning now how they will respond.
Read the entire memo.


The Civil Rights Movement’s success was based on a coordinated three-prong strategy of civil disobedience, grass-roots organizing and mass boycotts. To achieve similar victories, a national “We are the 99%” movement must adopt and apply that same approach

by Andrew Levison
In the coming days the Occupy Wall Street movement faces an extremely complex and difficult series of decisions about its strategy and tactics. It cannot simply repeat the initial tactic of occupying public spaces that it has employed up to now but it has not yet developed any clear alternative strategy for the future.
In debating their next steps the protesters — and the massive numbers of Americans who support them — will turn again and again to the history and example of the civil rights movement for guidance.
Read the entire memo.


Progressives: let’s not lose perspective. Occupy Wall Street is indeed very popular, but not as wildly popular as recent polling makes it seem. The polls provide a basis for realistic optimism but not for euphoria or premature declarations of victory.

by Andrew Levison
A number of recent national polls have shown remarkable levels of public support for the Occupy Wall Street protests. In two recent surveys, solid majorities have said that they either “agree” with the protesters or “view them favorably.” Perhaps even more striking are the results for groups who would ordinarily be expected to react with hostility. As Greg Sargent has noted, a majority of the non-college educated, working class whites in these surveys expressed clear support for the Wall Street protests. Adding icing to the cake, these same polls show that Occupy Wall Street is substantially more popular than the Tea Party.
Read the entire memo.