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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

TDS Strategy White Papers

Democrats: President Obama’s recent speeches provide a coherent Democratic message for the fall. They are clear, serviceable and ready to be put to use.

by James Vega
In the aftermath of the elections of 2000, 2002 and 2004 Dems widely bewailed the superior “message discipline” of the Republicans. The GOP was credited with successfully guiding its members to focus on a small number of clear slogans and themes while Democrats tied themselves in knots.
In consequence, one key theme of a recent strategy meeting about the coming elections between Senate Democrats and senior staff and the Obama White House was that “there will be intense emphasis on keeping all candidates, offices and parties coordinated on the same message”.
Read the entire memo.


A message strategy for combating the “enthusiasm gap” – Theme: This election is not about Washington. It’s about resisting a conservative attack on “people like you”.

by James Vega
In recent weeks the DNC, OFA and other Democratic campaign organizations have refined their message strategy to define the coming election as a stark choice between two vastly different alternative futures rather than a referendum on Obama’s first year and a half in office and to suggest that a wide range of distasteful policies will be pursued if the Republicans win control of the House of Representatives.
This is fine as far as it goes but it does not bring into focus the distinct and uniquely aggressive threat that the militarized and hyper-ideological “take back our country” campaign poses to Democrats across the country.
Read the entire memo.


Watch out Democrats: the exposure of the dishonest manipulation of videos shown on Andrew Breitbart’s websites will not moderate attacks by conservative extremists. It will intensify the search for new and even more aggressive tactics to employ.

by James Vega
In recent days an important discussion has emerged among progressives about the proper strategy for the progressive movement. As Bill Scher, the Online Campaign Manager of the Campaign for America’s Future described it:
Read the entire memo.


Progressives need an independent movement, but not because Obama “failed” or “betrayed” them. Progress always requires an active grass-roots movement and the lack of one for the last 30 years is the key cause of progressive “failures” and “defeats”

by James Vega
In recent days an important discussion has emerged among progressives about the proper strategy for the progressive movement. As Bill Scher, the Online Campaign Manager of the Campaign for America’s Future described it:
Read the entire memo.


Part I. Republicans: Move Right and Lose
Part II. Does Liberalism Hurt Democrats?
By Dr. Alan Abramowitz

As Ed Kilgore recently discussed at FiveThirtyEight.com, it has become almost an article of faith in Republican circles that the best way for the GOP to regain the ground it has lost in the last two elections is to nominate candidates who take consistently conservative positions on the issues facing the country.
Read the entire memo here.


A Special TDS-Demos Online Forum: Progressive Politics and The Meaning of American Freedom

In collaboration with the major progressive intellectual center DEMOS, TDS presents a special online forum.
Participants include:
John E. Schwarz
Lew Daly
Matt Yglesias
John Halpin
Ruy Teixeira
Will Marshall
Mark Schmitt
Hilary Bok
Ed Kilgore

Read the entire memo here.


The Democrats major problem is not the tea party minority; it’s the non-tea party white working class. The key strategic question is whether an aggressive populist appeal is actually the best way to seek their support. By Andrew Levison

In recent days a consensus on Democratic strategy for 2010 appears to be emerging. As Stan Greenberg says in the latest D-Corps memo…
Read the entire memo here.


Urgent: A TDS STRATEGY MEMO on the Supreme Court

The Republican right has a deeply disturbing covert extremist agenda for the Supreme Court — end the separation of church and state, undermine the legality of Social Security and Medicare and give individuals the right to ignore any laws they choose.
Does this sound like a wildly hysterical exaggeration?
It certainly does. But unfortunately, it also happens to be true.
Read the entire memo here.


Democrats who disagree with Obama’s Afghan plan face a difficult decision — They can categorically reject and oppose the administration or play a role in the emerging struggle between those who seek a political solution to the conflict and a military one

By James Vega
The plan President Obama laid out last week for Afghanistan has confronted anti-war Democrats with a profoundly difficult strategic choice — one that will have far-reaching implications not only for Afghanistan but for America as well.
Read the entire memo here.


Zero For Thirty-One: Lessons From the Loss in Maine By Jasmine Beach-Ferrara

Back in late September, I traveled with two friends to Biddeford, Maine, to volunteer with the “No on 1” campaign, which was working to defeat Question 1, a proposal to strike down a law legalizing same-sex marriage in that state. It rained all day, the kind of weather that oscillates between mist and downpour and that, on a mild day, makes you laugh at its sheer excess. Our task was straightforward: go door to door, ask people how they planned to vote, rate them on a scale of one to five, and move on.

Read the entire memo here.