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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

TDS Strategy White Papers

EDITORIAL: It’s Time To Unmask the Republican Agenda

by Ed Kilgore
…What Democrats can — and must — do more of during the shank of the campaign season is to challenge Republicans to disclose their own agenda for the country, and draw greater attention to the extremist logic of where Republican positions of current events would lead. The vast majority of all Democratic messaging in the next two months needs to relentlessly focus on this single topic.
Read the entire memo.


Democrats: calm down and regain some perspective. Yes, we’ll suffer losses this fall, but there’s actually not any profound Anti-Obama or pro-Republican attitude shift going on. This may sound wildly at variance with the polls you’ve seen, but it’s true.

by Andrew Levison
In recent days, as increasingly negative projections regarding the November election have appeared, a substantial number of Democrats have been seized with a genuine sense of panic. Many political commentaries have tended to suggest that what is happening may not be just the result of structural factors like the lower participation of pro-Obama groups in off-year elections or the deep recession. Rather, they suggest that a major shift in basic attitudes is occurring – that many Americans are now shifting their allegiance to the Republicans and abandoning Obama and the Democrats. Many Democrats have a sinking fear that support for Obama and the Dems is somehow collapsing.
Read the entire memo.


Progressives: we’ve forgotten (or maybe just never learned) the ideas of “critical support” and “strategic voting” which European center-left voters have applied for years. It’s how they defeated conservatives many times in the post-war period.

by James Vega
One reason for the low enthusiasm among many Obama voters is their feeling that voting for Democrats who have been vacillating or inconsistent in their support for a robust progressive-Democratic agenda means those politicians completely get away with “taking progressive votes for granted” or “betraying progressive supporters”
From this point of view, the only way progressives can ever really have any influence on “Blue Dog” and other centrist Democrats is to “punish” them by staying home on Election Day.
Read the entire memo.


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.