washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Ruy Teixeira

Democrats Need to Be the Party of and for Working People—of All Races

And they can’t retake Congress unless they win over more white workers.
by Robert Griffin, John Halpin & Ruy Teixeira

Read the article…

Matt Morrison

Rebuilding a Progressive Majority by Winning Back White Working-Class Moderates

From the findings of Working America, the AFL-CIO’s outreach program to non-union working people.
by Matt Morrison

Read the article…

The Daily Strategist

October 18, 2017

Needed: Ideas to Increase Midterm Voter Turnout

Philly Trib Washington correspondent Charles D. Ellison cuts to the quest the Democratic Party’s best thinkers should be focused on in his article “Voter turnout still headache for Democrats.” Ellison writes,

Voters who typically support Democratic candidates, in fact, are nearly 60 percent of the “drop-off” voting population, according to the Pew Center, as opposed to less than 40 percent who are Republican supporting voters… On average, Republican voters are 20 percent more likely to participate in a midterm election than Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters.

Such numbers do not bode well for Democrats heading into crucial competitive elections, including high-profile test run cycles this November in places such as Virginia, New Jersey and Philadelphia and major potential comeback Congressional midterms in 2018.

High voter turnout for Democrats will be key, particularly, in 2018 as the party not only seeks to retake lost ground in both the U.S. House and Senate, but also must regain power in numerous state legislatures and Governors mansions. For Democrats, the next two years are key in terms of rebalancing scales in their favor and effectively diminishing the power of the Trump administration and its base.

Making matters more difficult, Ellison notes that Dems have a tough image problem: “Badly enough for Democrats, a summer Washington Post/ABC poll found most Americans believed Democrats “just stand against Trump” as opposed to “stand[ing] for something,” 52 percent to 37 percent. Only 35 percent of registered voters believed the party stands for something.” This despite the fact that Democrats have provided the leadership that secured virtualy all of the reforms that have benefitted Americans over the last half-century.

With repect to the declining voter participation of the nation’s strongest pro-Democratic constituency, African-American voters, Ellison notes,

…Observers are concerned that Democratic Party rank and file are discounting the crucial need to re-energize a weary Black electorate that doesn’t turnout as much as older white voters do during House and Senate midterm cycles. That electorate will also be key in helping Democrats win back gubernatorial seats and state legislatures. Yet, there’s no evidence of a concerted plan to mobilize Black voters in 2017 — despite their needed presence in the Virginia governor’s and General Assembly races — and in 2018.

There are also worries that the Black electorate is fatigued from a constant barrage of controversies and policy attacks, from reversals on affirmative action, the Affordable Care Act, military surplus to police departments and the new Justice Department’s refusal to pursue voting rights cases and police reform…Strategists worry that environment is rapidly eroding any remaining Black electoral faith in the political process, which could lead to massive drop-off voting.

The Pew Center research, in fact, shows Black voters account for nearly 20 percent of all drop off voters in looking at 2012, 2014 and 2016 elections. There are a myriad of reasons for that: from the systemic impact of voter suppression to the emotional “tap out” or lack of enthusiasm which was prevalent among Black millennial voters (a segment that constitutes 35 percent of the Black electorate population).

But it’s not just African-American voters whose participation declines in midterm elections; it’s pretty much all pro-Democratic Demographic groups. What can be done about it? In recent years a number of writers have addressed the challenge of increasing turnout in both midterm and presidential elections in articles in various media, including:

How can we increase voter participation?” by Liz Sablich at Brookings.

5 Ways To Fix America’s Dismal Voter Turnout Problem” by Kira Letner at ThinkProgress.

How to increase voter participation in low-turnout communities: Research brief” by Melissa R. Michaelson at Journalists Resource.

How to Increase US Voter Turnout” by Nancy Meyer at Daily Kos.

The Best Ways to Increase Voter Registration, and Voting” by John A. Tures at HuffPo.

Increasing Voter Turnout for 2018 and Beyond” by Tina Rosenberg at the New York Times.

This Might Be the Best Idea for Turning Out More Voters in U.S. Elections” by Thomas MacMillan at New York Magazine.

4 ways to boost the dismal turnout in local elections” by Keith Wagstaff at The Week.

How Can We Increase Voter Turnout” at FairVote.

Increasing Voter Turnout: What, If Anything, Can Be Done?” by Kelly Born at Stanford Social Innovation Review.

7 Ideas From Other Countries That Could Improve U.S. Elections” by Kate Samuelson at Time.

Simple Ways to Increase Voter Turnout” by Lee Drutman at Pacific Standard.

Ways to Increase the Youth Vote” by Goethe Behr at uspresidentialelectionnews.com.

Want to increase voter turnout? Here’s how” by Thad Kousser at The L.A. Times.

There is a lot of repetition in the above articles, and many of these ideas depend on Democrats having  working majorities in both the House and Senate, as well as state legislatures, to secure the noted reforms — which is quite a stretch at this point.

All of these and other ideas will require that Democrats provide better and more diverse candidates. There is some evidence that Democrats are doing better in this regard in this election cycle, as indicated by the swelling number of Democrats already running for office in 2018.

The challenge is made more difficult by Trump’s ability to manipulate the media and distract coverage from popular policy reforms, which remain the strongest advantage of Democrats. New ideas to facilitate meeting this challenge are more than welcome.


Political Strategy Notes

Despite the limitation of two choices at a time, “The Best Health Care System in the World: Which One Would You Pick?” by Aaron E. Carroll and Austin Frakt at NYT’s The Upshot provides some insightful analysis by top public health/economic experts.

Paul Krugman offers a succinct, sobering critique of the Graham-Cassidy health care bill: “In reality, Graham-Cassidy is the opposite of moderate. It contains, in exaggerated and almost caricature form, all the elements that made previous Republican proposals so cruel and destructive. It would eliminate the individual mandate, undermine if not effectively eliminate protection for people with pre-existing conditions, and slash funding for subsidies and Medicaid. There are a few additional twists, but they’re all bad — notably, a funding formula that would penalize states that are actually successful in reducing the number of uninsured…Many progressives have already begun taking Obamacare’s achievements for granted, and are moving on from protest against right-wing schemes to dreams of single-payer. Unfortunately, that’s exactly the kind of environment in which swing senators, no longer in the spotlight, might be bribed or bullied into voting for a truly terrible bill.

Syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. adds this important observation to the criticism of Graham-Cassidy: “The latest repeal bill is an offering from Republican Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (La.) that would tear apart the existing system and replace it with block grants to the states. Block grants — flows of money for broad purposes with few strings attached — are a patented way to evade hard policy choices. All the tough decisions are kicked down to state capitals, usually with too little money to achieve the ends the block grant is supposed to realize…Oh, yes, and the [the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities] report also noted, with italicized emphasis, that as currently written, the block grant “would disappear altogether after 2026.” What happens then? The bottom line, said Jacob Leibenluft, a senior adviser at the center, is that Graham-Cassidy “punts all the problems to governors while giving them insufficient tools and resources to address them.”]report also noted, with italicized emphasis, that as currently written, the block grant “would disappear altogether after 2026.” What happens then? The bottom line, said Jacob Leibenluft, a senior adviser at the center, is that Graham-Cassidy “punts all the problems to governors while giving them insufficient tools and resources to address them.”

At FiveThirtyEight Harry Enten reports that “Trump’s Popularity Has Dipped Most In Red States,” and notes ” In states where Trump won by at least 10 points, his net approval rating is down 18 percentage points, on average, compared to his margin last November. In states that were decided by 10 points or less in November, it’s down only 13 points. And it’s down 8 points in states Clinton carried by at least 10 points…If red state voters who dislike Trump but voted for him in 2016 abandon the Republican Party in 2018, it could lead to some unexpected electoral results. It’s another reason that Democrats, if they want to maximize their chances of winning back the House, should compete in a wide variety of districts.”

William Greider makes a strong argument at The Nation that Democrats need primary challengers to reinvigorate the party’s prospects, particularly with respect to Dems who have gotten too cozy with corporate lobbyists. As Greider suggests, “Rebellion may be required within the Democratic Party. It has to turn away from the bankers and the multinationals and restore the multi-hued party of workers and imaginative reformers. Refreshing the field of battle with new faces and original ideas risks losing the next election or two, but intramural contests can energize skeptical voters and redefine fundamental principles…The rebels within the ranks may be a minority, but as the GOP discovered in previous decades, a purposeful minority can agitate and educate and change party direction in fundamental ways. Party elders might have more campaign money, but Democratic challengers can employ a device that worked wonderfully for right-wing, anti-tax Republicans: Ask primary candidates to take the “pledge,” then target those establishment incumbents who refuse to do so. For Democrats, the pledge would be a promise to fight any measure that cuts taxes for corporate dodgers as well as any measure that refuses to support expansion of Social Security or Medicare. Politicians who try to cheat on their pledge should be targeted and taken down. After incumbents see a few supposedly safe colleagues get wiped, they will get the message.”

From the Economic Policy Institute’s post “How today’s unions help working people“:

“While we lost at the top of the ticket, the untold story of the election was the dramatic increase in Latino participation rates that allowed for a record number of Latinos to be elected to office,” said Cristobal Alex, president of the Latino Victory Project, an outreach group backed by Democratic activists, and the national deputy director of voter outreach and mobilization for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “There are bright spots…And 2018 represents another opportunity: Latinos make up more than 20 percent of the eligible voters in 10 out of 62 House races deemed competitive by Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales, according to a Roll Call analysis.” — from Stephanie Akin’s “Record Gains by Latinos Contradict Narrative” at Roll Call.

Despite Trump’s media image as an outlier in the GOP projected by David Brooks, Chris Cillizza and others, Robert Borosage has a reminder at OurFuture.org (cross-posted from The Nation) that Trump’s views, though often more crudely-stated, are nothing new for the Republicans. As Borosage notes, “Trump’s actions and words are particularly noxious, but no one should be misled: Trump’s race-bait politics are an expression of the modern Republican Party, not a deviation from it. The battle for its soul has long since been decided…Trump’s election tally wasn’t an outlier, either. He gained about the same share of the white vote as Romney (58-37 for Trump and 59-39 for Romney) and he was rejected by black and Latino voters by similar margins as well.”


Political Strategy Notes

Salena Zito takes a retrospective look at “The day that destroyed the working class and sowed the seeds of Trump,” at The New York Post. The day in Zito’s article is September 19, 1977, which “would be known as Black Monday in the Steel Valley, which stretches from Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio eastward toward Pittsburgh. It is the date when Youngstown Sheet and Tube abruptly furloughed 5,000 workers all in one day. The bleeding never stopped.” Zito’s article should be read as a cautionary tale, more than a lament, because, amazingly enough, Democrats still have failed to brand their party as the champion of keeping jobs in America and renewing the economic vitality of the rust belt. In the four decades that have passed since then, Democratic leaders have proposed legislation to penalize “runaway plants” and job-export, but none of them got much traction. Yes, a few  Democrats obstructed these reforms, but always it was the Republicans who 0verwhelmingly opposed them. For Dems, it’s been more a failure of branding than one of inaction. Dems have paid a heavy price for their lack of a profile as job-protectors, as Republicans escaped blame by laying low, very low. Into the void came psuedo-maverick Trump. Hard to blame workers in these communities for thinking “what the hell, let’s try something different. At least he talks about us.”

However, in his article, “The Minuscule Importance of Manufacturing in Far-Right Politics,” Jonathan Rothwell, senior economist at Gallup, notes puzzling polling data which conveys a different impression: “In fact, Gallup survey data from August shows that American adults who approve of the way Mr. Trump is handling the presidency are actually less worried than other Americans about how trade competition will affect their job. Just 6 percent of employed adults who approve of Mr. Trump say they are worried about their job going overseas, compared with 11 percent who disapprove…Exposure to trade competition played no apparent role in persuading Obama voters to switch to Mr. Trump. People who voted for President Obama in 2012 accounted for about 12 percent of all Trump voters, but again, these voters were not disproportionately involved in the manufacturing sector, either nationally or in swing states. Around 8.7 percent of Trump voters who also voted for Mr. Obama in 2012 work in manufacturing, compared with 9.5 percent of Trump voters who voted for Mitt Romney.”

On an optimistic note, Ronald Brownstein observes at the Atlantic: “…Demographic trends offer some guarded reasons for hope that the United States is living through peak years of discord over its growing racial and ethnic diversity—even if the temperature isn’t likely to lower very quickly. That sliver of good news is embedded in an otherwise sobering new study from PolicyLink and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at the University of Southern California.” The study found that “The country today is simultaneously diversifying, especially among young people, and aging. While kids of color are expected to become a majority of the under-18 population by around 2020 (and already constitute most public-school students), nearly four-fifths of today’s senior population is white…Looking forward, the Census Bureau projects that minorities will increase their share of the youth population somewhat more slowly and steadily age into a growing portion of the elderly. The result, as the study observes, is that the racial generation gap already likely peaked around 2013, and will decline, albeit slowly, in years ahead…”

But John B. Judis, author of The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics, writes at The New Republic about why he is now more skeptical about demographic change favoring the Democratic Party. But Judis does see a way for Democrats to win broader support in the near future. As Judis explains, “If Democrats try to win future elections by relying on narrow racial-ethnic targeting, they will not only enable the Republicans to play wedge politics, they will also miss the opportunity to make a broader economic argument…This thinking runs contrary to the “race-conscious” strategy touted by Democrats who believe that a majority-minority nation is a guarantee of victory. Sorry to say, but it’s not going to happen. The best way for Democrats to build a lasting majority is to fight for an agenda of shared prosperity that has the power to unite, rather than divide, their natural constituencies. There is no need, in short, for Democrats to choose between appealing to white workers and courting people of color. By making a strong and effective case for economic justice, they can do both at the same time.”

Casey Tolan of the Bay Area News Group outlines “Progressive Democrats’ counter-argument to Trump tax plan: a $1.4 trillion tax credit for the working class,” and explains: “As Congress starts to debate President Donald Trump’s plan to overhaul the tax code and cut corporate rates, a Silicon Valley Democrat is putting forward a radically different tax proposal. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Santa Clara, will introduce a bill Wednesday that would give low-income and working-class taxpayers a big tax credit — and have a massive price tag.  …The plan would drastically expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps people at the bottom end of the salary range. Low-income taxpayers without dependent children would see their credit rise from a maximum of $510 to $3,000, and families would see their maximum credit rise from $6,318 to $12,131, depending on their income and number of children. Economists say the increased credit would help compensate for the fact that working-class salaries have stagnated in recent decades even as the U.S. economy has continued to grow. While the proposal isn’t likely to gain traction in the Republican-dominated Congress, Khanna hopes it will become a Democratic rallying cry…“I think it’s going to be our party’s answer to Donald Trump on taxes,” Khanna said. “While he’s proposing tax cuts for the investor class, we’re proposing support for the working and middle class.”Khanna is introducing the bill alongside progressive Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who is widely seen as a potential 2020 presidential candidate.”

Amid worries about what Trump and the Republicans will eventually do about DACA and the Dreamers, William A. Galston writes at Brookings that a recent “A Politico/Morning Consult survey “found that 58 percent of Americans want the Dreamers to be allowed to stay in the United States and become citizens if they meet certain requirements. An additional 18 percent think the Dreamers should be allowed to become legal residents but not citizens. Only 15 percent think they should be removed or deported….The breakdown of the 76 percent who want the Dreamers to remain either as citizens or permanent legal residents is revealing. It includes 84 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of Independents, 69 percent of Republicans—and two-thirds of self-identified Trump voters. 60 percent of the voters who “strongly approve” of Mr. Trump’s performance as president want the Dreamers to be allowed to stay, compared to 33 percent who want them to be deported…So this episode could turn into a win both for the president, who kept faith with his supporters by cancelling DACA, and for Congress—but only if Congress passes, and the president signs, a bill allowing the Dreamers to remain in the country legally and permanently…If Congress takes its bearings from the sentiments of the American people as a whole, it will send the president a bill that enshrines protections for the Dreamers into law, an action to which even Mr. Trump’s base is unlikely to object.”

Ed Kilgore warms at New York Magazine that “The GOP Is Throwing a Hail Mary on Obamacare Repeal” and warns “With velocity one would not expect of a zombie, the last-chance GOP bill aimed at partially repealing and replacing Obamacare, the Graham-Cassidy proposal, is suddenly being taken seriously by friends and foes alike. The main agent of propulsion was a Senate GOP luncheon yesterday after which Mitch McConnell expressed support for the measure and his deputy John Cornyn offered to get a whip count in place. Lindsey Graham says the bill if voted on right now would get “47, 48 votes,” which is of course dangerously close to the 50 needed to rescue the debacle of GOP health-care efforts…The key reason for guarded GOP optimism is the close friendship between Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who administered the coup de grâce for the July health-care push…if Graham-Cassidy is going to be passed, it will happen very quickly (the current plan is for a vote during the week of September 25, or in other words, at the very last minute)…There remains a very small but real possibility that the biggest regrets will be felt by congressional Democrats who cleared the Senate decks for Graham-Cassidy by cutting a fiscal deal with the White House.”

Progressives concerned that single-payer health care reform attempts to0 much too soon can take some comfort from Margaret Sanger-Katz’s post at NYT’s The Upshot, “Buried Inside Bernie Sanders’s Bill: A Fallback Plan,” which notes, “The provisions are tucked into Title X of the bill and describe the four-year transition between current policy and the Sanders bill’s goal of a Medicare-for-all system. During that interim, some younger Americans would be able to buy access to the traditional Medicare program, which is now mainly for those 65 and up. The provisions would also establish an option for Americans to buy access to a Medicare-like government plan that would be sold on the Obamacare exchanges…The Medicare buy-in section comes from Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, who has introduced the provision as a stand-alone bill…The public option section was written by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a longtime proponent of the idea. As part of the Sanders bill, she said, a public option would help the government prepare to administer a full-fledged Medicare-for-all program.”

At Politico Edward-Isaac Dovere writes, “Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Gerstein Bocian Agne Strategies conducted online polling of 1,000 Democrats and 1,000 swing voters across 52 swing districts for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Their advice to candidates afterward: Drop the talk of free college. Instead, the firms urged Democrats to emphasize making college more affordable and reducing debt, as well as job skills training, according to an internal DCCC memo…“When Democrats go and talk to working-class voters, we think talking to them about how we can help their children go to college, they have a better life, is great,” said Ali Lapp, executive director of House Majority PAC, which supports Democratic House candidates. “They are not interested. … It’s a problem when you have a growing bloc in the electorate think that college is not good, and they actually disdain folks that go to college.”


The Risk of Fighting the Last War

After reading some of the initial commentary on Hillary Clinton’s new book, What Happened, which despite her candor and self-criticism has subjected her to a whole new round of criticism, it occurred to me that the 2016 “hangover” for Democrats is becoming a real problem. I wrote about this at some length for New York:

[J]ust like anyone else, the most recent Democratic nominee is entitled to a take….But worthwhile as all these assessments are, at some point Democrats will need to close the book on 2016 and fight the tendency to assume that the next presidential election will be a do-over.

The reality, as Clinton’s own self-examination illustrates all over again, is that the 2016 presidential election was so close — and the popular-vote loser winning the Electoral College by insanely close margins in three states is about as close as it gets this side of Florida 2000 — that there are multiple credible explanations. Using a “but for” test, Clinton lost because of gender bias and the email “scandal” and excessively vague messaging and media bias and James Comey and dangerous dependence on election modeling and bitter-end Sanders supporters and the Wall Street speeches and accumulated resentments against her husband and Russian hacking and fake-news dissemination and third- and fourth-party votes and GOP hypocrisy and the Trump campaign being forced by its narrow path to victory to better target resources and … on and on.

The understandable but dangerous temptation for frustrated Democrats is to throw up their hands and blame the whole mess on their centrist woman nominee, resolving right now to go with her polar opposite. That would be a left-leaning man.

As it happens, there is a left-leaning man available who nearly derailed Clinton in the 2016 primaries, and who is thought by many of his supporters to have been a sure winner against Donald Trump.

Like many counterfactuals, there is no way to prove or disprove the “Bernie woulda won” assumption. Yes, there were polls showing him enjoying significantly better approval ratings than Trump or Clinton, and there’s an argument that he would have done better than HRC in precisely the Rust Belt states that decided it all. But we’ll never know what might have happened if the vast infrastructure of the GOP, conservative media, and the MSM had devoted a billion dollars or so to exposing and attacking Sanders vulnerabilities that primary voters did not care about or that Clinton chose not to bring up. These range from his favorable rhetoric about Cuba and Venezuela to his agreement to serve as a presidential elector for the Marxist-Leninist Socialist Workers Party to his so-called “Soviet Honeymoon” with his wife, Jane (Trump’s Russian friends would have had some rich, ironic fun with that chestnut), and might have also extended to the tax increases his various policy proposals, most notably single-payer health care, could have required. Maybe none of this would have mattered in the end, particularly as compared to the vast damage to HRC’s image decades of attacks had wrought. But there is no good-faith case to be made that Clinton was the worst of all possible Democratic nominees.

As it happens, we have a very good recent example of the folly involved in excessive retrospection about a presidential defeat: the post-2012 Republicans. In the famous “autopsy report” authorized by the Republican National Committee in 2013, and much praised at the time, some very smart people reverse-engineered Mitt Romney’s nearly successful campaign and made a series of recommendations based on addressing his weaknesses. They mostly involved outreach to young and minority voters, and especially emphasized unqualified support for comprehensive immigration reform. The winning candidate and message Republicans actually took into battle just over three years later could not have been more distant from what party leaders set out to produce.

Democratic primary voters, not backward-looking pundits and activists, will ultimately decide what kind of candidate and campaign to send up against (presumably) Donald Trump in 2020. Bernie Sanders has a lot of tangible assets to take into a 2020 candidacy, as do Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. They will also be 77, 78, and 72, respectively, in 2020, making their health and durability unavoidable issues and perhaps, if they so choose, reasons not to throw their hats in the ring. Democrats also don’t know for sure if Trump will run again, and if not, whether his “brand,” for good or ill, will be passed on to his successor as Republican nominee. Depending on the condition of the country and the blame or credit born by the GOP administration, the dynamics of 2020 may or may not resemble those of 2016. The more you think through it all, there are many, many things we don’t know about the next presidential contest. That’s all the more reason for Democrats to stop fighting the last war. They’ll have plenty of options once the midterm cycle is over and things get serious, but none of them should involve a systematic effort to avoid the missteps and bad luck endured by Hillary Clinton. Praise the Lord, we will never again see a presidential election just like 2016.


Political Strategy Notes

Credit minority leaders Schumer and Pelosi with playing a deft hand in their immigration policy negotiations with Trump. Not that anything he says has much shelf life. But getting Trump to clarify his postions on DACA, the wall and other immigration issues is a good strategy that splinters his hard right base.

“Trump is on a bipartisan tear of late,” write Rachel Bade and Josh Dawsey at Politico. “Elated by what he viewed as glowing press after his debt ceiling deal with Democratic leaders “Chuck and Nancy” last week, Trump wants to replicate that thrill of victory, which he believes Republicans have failed to deliver since his inauguration….In recent weeks, Trump has complained in private that it’s difficult to have any sort of relationship — or even make small talk — with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He’s told staff that he finds Speaker Paul Ryan, whom he’s dubbed a “boy scout,” dry as well, but the two have some rapport…By contrast, Trump can relate to Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, who talk more in non-Washington terms that he understands, according to people familiar with their meetings. Trump wants to keep meeting with them.”

Anne Branigan reports at theroot.com that a new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds that “A strong majority of Republicans agreed to some extent that white people are under attack in this country (63 percent), which isn’t altogether surprising given the racially charged—and just outright racist—rhetoric the GOP has employed through the years. But while the rate of Democrats who agreed that whites are under attack was comparatively low, at 21 percent, that still indicates that a fifth of “progressive” respondents subscribe to one of the so-called alt-right’s core beliefs…Most of the survey’s respondents felt that “all races should be treated equally” (89 percent) and that people of different races should be allowed to live wherever they choose (70 percent).”

So, “How Much Can the Youth Vote Actually Help Democrats?” Elliot Morris addresses the qustion at The Upshot and observes, “Young Americans have been moving left and leaving the G.O.P. in recent years, but a successful Democratic coalition built on the backs of liberal youth is far from a sure thing, especially in the short term…The party’s problem is straightforward: getting them to actually go to the polls…Those aged 18 to 29 vote at far lower rates than older groups, decreasing their electoral power. But there are at least some signs that their participation levels will improve. And if an increasingly left-leaning voting bloc does become more politically active, there are huge potential gains for the Democratic Party…The obvious positive news for Democrats is reflected in the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (C.C.E.S.), a survey of 64,000 adults. Fifty-four percent of American adults younger than 30 identified as Democrat or leaning-Democrat in 2016 — that’s six percentage points higher than among the rest of the public. Young people also call themselves “very liberal” or “liberal” more often than Americans older than 30, by five and seven percentage points.”

According to a new Pew Research analysis of polling data, “The study also finds wide demographic and socio-economic differences between consistent voters, drop-off voters and nonvoters. For instance, 80% of those who voted in all three elections were non-Hispanic whites, compared with 62% of drop-off voters and 63% of nonvoters. A 65% majority of consistent voters were 50 and older; just 45% of drop-off voters and 32% of nonvoters were 50 and older…Eight-in-ten voters who participated in the 2016 and 2012 presidential elections and the 2014 midterm were white, compared with 62% of presidential election voters who did not vote in the midterm.”

At The New York Times Linda Qiu has an update on ‘medicare for all’ polling, and notes “A Quinnipiac poll in August reported that 51 percent of respondents said that replacing the current health care system with a Medicare-for-all model was a good idea. “Medicare for all” generally polls more favorably than “single payer.” In a June poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 57 percent of respondents supported Medicare for all, while 53 percent favored a single-payer approach…Other polls about single-payer health care found lower levels of support: 44 percent from Morning Consult/Politico, 44 percent from Rasmussen and 33 percent from the Pew Research Center.”..Pollsters at AP/NORC did not ask about a specific model in an August survey, but 60 percent of respondents said it was the federal government’s responsibility to provide health care for everyone.”

David Leonhardts’s New York Times column on “Bernie’s Secret Allies” notes a delicious irony: “The weaker private markets become, the more political momentum government-provided insurance will have. Some Democrats will push for a gradual expansion of Medicaid and Medicare. Others, like Sanders and his growing list of allies, will push for an entirely new system. I don’t expect them to succeed anytime soon, but the debate over health care has moved much further to the left in recent years than I expected to see. And the Republican Party is largely responsible.”

From Paul Waldman’s Plum Line article, “The dumbest criticism of single payer health care“: “There is simply no critique you can make of single payer health care that is more wrong than “It’ll be too expensive.” That is 180 degrees backwards. Single payer is many things, but above all it is cheap. And what we have now is the most expensive system in the world, by a mile…Let’s look at what we’re paying now. In 2016, we spent $3.4 trillion on health care. That spending is projected to rise an average of 5.6 percent per year over the next decade. If you do the math, that means that between 2018 and 2027 we’ll spend $49 trillion on health care in America. That’s the current system…Republicans have seized on the $32 trillion number to scare people into thinking that Democrats want to raise their taxes some insane amount (“When you look at the majority of House Democrats, they support a single-payer, $32 trillion bill backed by Bernie Sanders,” says Sean Spicer). But if we’re going to spend $49 trillion under the current system, and single payer would cost $32 trillion, doesn’t that mean we’d be saving $17 trillion? Congrats on all the money you’d be getting back!”

In his Daily Kos post, “New data finds U.S. Latinas are ‘becoming an economic and social powerhouse,’ Gabe Ortiz writes, “Despite anti-immigrant and anti-Latino slander from the Hater-in-Chief, Latinas are persisting, resisting, and “outpacing the rest of the nation” in economic and social influence, according to new Nielsen data. U.S. Latinas now represent 17 percent of nation’s total woman population, experiencing a nearly 40 percent growth from 2005-2015…77% of US Hispanic female population growth over that ten-year span came not from immigration, but from Hispanic girls born in the U.S…”Latinas are coming into their own, and this newfound confidence will have an undeniable impact on our consumer-driven society,” said Stacie de Armas of Nielsen. “Hispanic women are increasingly the catalysts in an intercultural marketplace. Not only are they the cornerstone of the Latino family, keeping language and traditions alive, but they are also forging a wider path in the mainstream and using technology to serve as brand and culture influencers.”


Don’t Forget the “Tax Reform” Bill Will Probably Include Big Domestic Spending Cuts

After reading about the 100th article discussing which tax loopholes Republicans would choose to close to “pay for” the big tax cuts they want, I finally objected at New York:

When we look forward to congressional action (or inaction) on taxes, it is important to remember that it’s going to come packaged as a budget resolution, which means that it’s going to deal with spending as well as revenue. The draft resolution approved by the House Budget Committee in July calls for $203 billion in mandatory spending (basically, entitlement programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps) cuts. Many House Republicans think that spending-cut target is much too small.

Yet you can read for hour after hour about the dynamics of the tax bill without seeing the word “spending” mentioned at all.

The Washington Post’s latest big-picture take on the bill, for instance, begins with this description of the choices involved:

“Trump advisers and top congressional leaders, hoping to assuage conservatives hungry for details, are working urgently to assemble a framework that they hope to release next week, according to White House aides and lawmakers. But after months of negotiations, the thorniest disagreement remains in view: how to pay for the giant tax cuts Trump has promised.

“Negotiators agree with the goal of slashing the corporate income tax rate and also cutting individual income taxes. But they have yet to agree about which tax breaks should be cut to pay for it all.”

The administration, we’re told, is “pressing to eliminate or reduce several popular tax deductions, including the interest companies pay on debt, state and local income taxes paid by families and individuals, and the hugely popular mortgage interest deduction.” But there’s not a word about spending cuts. We are supposed to believe that Republicans are seriously thinking about an assault on the mortgage interest deduction, by far the most powerfully defended sacred cow in the entire tax code — but they aren’t thinking about cutting Medicaid, which they’ve been trying to do all year.

Yes, the commentariat is intermittently aware — thanks to writers like my colleague Eric Levitz — that the conservative zealots of the House Freedom Caucus have never stopped demanding cuts in “welfare” (a term they apply to any federal benefits that don’t have work requirements and time limits) as part of the tax package. Indeed, HFC leaders talk about this constantly. But journalists aren’t listening. Just today Vox reports:

“The Freedom Caucus’s alternative [to revenue-increasing offsets] is to make up the difference with deep cuts to welfare programs. Meadows said his caucus has identified upward of $500 billion in mandatory savings options Republicans could exercise.”

Perhaps HFC members are the only Republicans primarily focused on using the tax bill to force spending cuts, but others will arrive at this conclusion soon enough. Lest we forget, the whole point of the Obamacare repeal-and-replace escapade was to cut taxes and cut Medicaid, a fact that was often obscured by massively more extensive talk about changes in individual health-insurance regulations.

With tax cuts and entitlements both squarely on the table, why wouldn’t the GOP help “pay for” the former with the latter? This is, after all, the party that repeatedly and redundantly passed a series of Ryan budgets that paid for tax cuts with the same kind of deep cuts in low-income programs (plus Medicare) that HFC members dream of each night.

Congressional Republicans are going to try to slash spending. The only question is how much and how quicky.

So let’s stop calling this a “tax reform bill,” okay? It may well be something more and worse.


Update on Health Care Politics, Single-Payer Momentum

At The Daily 202, Paige Winfield Cunningham has an informative update on national — and internationsal — health care politics. As Cunningham writes,

…Republicans have focused on repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with bills that would cover far fewer people and are deeply unpopular. Democrats are fixating on single-payer plans (see Sanders, Bernie) that Republicans will surely block.

After much fanfare, Sanders (I-Vt.) rolled out yesterday afternoon his “Medicare for All” proposal, which has gained support from 16 Democrats (many of them would-be 2020 presidential contenders — see Warren, Elizabeth). It’s certainly true that support for a single-payer system has been edging up in recent years among the public and among members of Congress.

Jeff Stein adds at Vox:

The majority of those backing Sanders’s Medicare-for-all bill tend to hail from blue states or are rumored 2020 presidential candidates. Still, as Vox’s Dylan Matthews has written, the endorsements are illustrative of a stunning shift among Democrats to embrace single-payer legislation — which was once circumscribed to the party’s far-left fringe.

In late August, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) became the first Senate Democrat to back Sanders’s bill. She was quickly followed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), as well as Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who is up for reelection in 2018, became the first senator from a state won by Donald Trump in the general election to back the bill on Tuesday. (Though Wisconsin is a traditionally blue state that frequently elects Democrats.)

But several Senate Democrats have also said that they will not co-sponsor the legislation, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has not formally stated a position on the bill.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), widely seen as one of the most progressive senators in a red state, said that he would not be co-sponsoring the bill — though he is pushing a health care bill of his own aimed at expanding Medicare by lowering the enrollment age down to 55. Brown is expected to face a difficult reelection race in 2018.

“Right now, I’m focused on building bipartisan support for my bill to allow people to buy into the Medicare program at age 55, which will cut costs and expand choices for Ohioans,” Brown told Vox in an email.

Similarly, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate in 2016, appeared to confirm in an interview that he wouldn’t be co-sponsoring the bill, citing his preference to give consumers options in choosing their health insurance. (Sanders’s single-payer bill would likely eliminate private insurance companies and replace them with a single, government-run insurer.) Kaine supports a government-run public option, and said he wants enrollees to be able to pick between the government plan and a private plan.

Meanwhile, some Senate Democrats haven’t made up their minds yet. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said he needed to scrutinize the text of the (still unreleased) Sanders bill, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said much of the same.

MSNBC commentator Steve Kornacki tweets a revealing comparison: 1993: 4 of 56 Dem senators (7%) sponsor single-payer bill. 2017: 17 of 48 Dem-caucusing senators (35%) sponsor single-payer bill. Single-payer reform is gaining traction among Democratic elected officials.

Cunningham outlines the Trump-supported ‘Graham-Cassidy alternative.’ which “would actually rip even more deeply into the ACA than previous GOP-backed measures and is widely viewed as a last-ditch and far-fetched effort to fulfill their repeal-and-replace promise.” Additionally,

The measure would turn the billions of dollars spent on the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, tax credits and subsidies into grants managed by each state, allowing states to define their own rules for health plans that may be sold to residents and outline the help consumers should receive to afford that insurance, my colleagues Amy Goldstein and Dave Weigel report.

Cunningham sketches some of the systemic health care compromises in Europe and Japan:

Great Britain is often cited as the classic example of a single-payer system, where the government not only pays virtually all the bills (albeit funded by a hefty tax) but also runs the hospitals. But other wealthy countries have designed systems that interact heavily with the private market or require patients to kick in their own funds to keep costs lower.

Take France, for example. While on vacation in Paris last week, I had a chance to chat briefly with a senior French Senate staffer about his experience with his country’s health-care system — and was surprised to learn that it’s not quite the government-pays-all system many Americans imagine.

Philippe Bourasse, the Senate’s deputy head of international relations, told me that he carries a supplemental insurance plan to help pay the portion of his medical visits the government won’t cover, and then pays the rest of that share out of pocket. Indeed, around 95 percent of the French buy private coverage — or get government vouchers if their income is low enough — to cover cost-sharing and some uncovered benefits, according to the Commonwealth Fund.

In Japan, all enrollees must pay a 30 percent coinsurance for all medications and services they receive. In the Netherlands, the government contracts with competing private plans — much like how the U.S. Medicare Advantage program works. Successful health-care systems in other countries including Germany, Australia and New Zealand all work in somewhat different ways but still manage to achieve better health outcomes and less per-capita spending than in the United States.

Of course, more government health benefits also require steeper taxes to pay for them. French workers are required to pay 21 percent of their income into the national health system; even so, there’s a near-constant debate over how to put the program in the black. Tax hikes aren’t something Americans swallow willingly. And anyway, the conversation on Capitol Hill has centered on how to cut the government’s health-care spending, not increase it — at least among Republicans who control the power lines.

It might also be good to survey how South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and other nations mix the public and private sectors in their health care systems — and assess how well their systems work.

The political momentum behind single-payer health care reform suggests it will be a central component of many Democratic campaigns in both 2018 and 2020, while Republicans now appear more morally and intellectually-bankrupt on health care reform than ever. Democats may settle on a “public option” compromise or some other public/private sectors mix. But right now, the positive energy is with the single-payer movement — and that helps Democrats and hurts the idea-poor Republicans.


Creamer: Trump’s Bumper-Car Administration Careens Toward Disaster

The following article by Democratic strategist Robert Creamer, author of Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, is cross-posted from HuffPo:

Fundamentally, Donald Trump runs the country like a guy drives a bumper car at a carnival.

When you drive a bumper car you just smack into whatever is right in front of you, deal with whatever is immediately in view, and have no idea or concern where you’re going. That’s the way Donald Trump governs.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer absolutely got the best of him in their White House negotiation over the short-term debt ceiling/continuing resolution.

That was partially because Pelosi and Schumer are simply better negotiators and tacticians than “the great dealmaker” Trump.

Partially it was because Schumer and Pelosi can hold their caucuses together better than Trump’s GOP allies Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. So Trump has apparently decided, not without good reason, that he can’t trust Ryan and McConnell to deliver when the chips are down.

Trump, Ryan and McConnell wanted to take Democratic leverage away by passing a Continuing Resolution for spending and a debt ceiling increase that expires in 18 months – right after the next election. Democrats wanted an extension of only three months, so that they could use the leverage of the debt ceiling and spending bill that expires right before Christmas to press for concessions on Democratic priorities – like including a DREAM Act and ACA market fix as part of an overall “must pass” package.

When Treasury Secretary Mnuchin suggested in the meeting that the “markets” could not stand the uncertainty of having such a short debt ceiling and federal spending extension, Pelosi is reported to have replied that, while Secretary Mnuchin may know a lot about the “markets,” the coin of the realm at the Capitol was votes – and that unless he had 218 votes for his plan, it would be a three-month extension, period.

At that moment, with the deadline closing in, Trump badly wanted to get a spending and debt ceiling extension passed. So he decided – apparently on the spur of the moment and without any consultation with his erstwhile allies ― to abandon his ally’s position and fold his cards. He made an impulsive decision to get through the next few weeks – even if it massively strengthens the hand of the Democrats over the next three months and will undercut Trump’s ability to get Congress to pass his own program.

As a progressive Democrat I am thrilled at his collapse. But it represented just the most recent example of Trump’s “bumper car” mentality – react impulsively with the short term in mind regardless of the long-term consequences of his decisions. Deliberate he is not.

In this situation Trump’s impulsive, shoot-from-the-hip approach may have undermined his own interests. But there are many other circumstances where his erratic, impulsive, defensive, petty, short-term approach to decision-making could endanger humanity.

In its discussion of the leadership skills needed by four-star flag officers, the National Defense University says:

Top-level leaders are responsible for the strategic direction of their organization within the context of the strategic environment-now increasingly global. The term “strategic” implies broad scale and scope. It requires forward vision extending over long time spans – in some cases 50 years or more. So strategic leadership is a process wherein those responsible for large-scale organizations set long-term directions and obtain, through consensus building, the energetic support of key constituencies necessary for the commitment of resources.

That means you have to have the capacity to understand and consider the long- term consequences of your short-term decisions.

If this quality is necessary for four-star flag officers – generals and admirals – in the military, you’d think they would also be necessary for the commander-in-chief. But there is no evidence whatsoever that Trump has any long-term vision.

In fact, one of the people close to him is reported to have confided that he lives life 15 minutes at a time.

Trump’s petty, impulsive threats in the nuclear confrontation with North Korea are a key example.

Were it not for the vision, sound judgment and long term thinking of President John F. Kennedy in 1962, millions of people would have likely died in a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis. We now know that Soviet commanders in Cuba had been ordered to respond to an attack on the Island with a nuclear strike on the United States without further instructions from Moscow.

Kennedy’s self-confidence and vision gave him the strength to stand up to the advice of his top military advisers who wanted him to launch just such an attack. What would Trump have done? What will he do if he faces a similar decision in the future?

Trump has no long-term vision. His pettiness and defensiveness betray an underlying lack of confidence that is frightening. And as a result – more than anything else – he fears being perceived as “weak.”

Trump is the classic bully – the kid in school whose own self-doubts and fears are manifest in his need to bully and dominate others, and a constant need for attention and affirmation.

And those traits are complicated further by Trump’s complete unfamiliarity with history. He has no appreciation for the consequences of past decisions or the wars that resulted. Trump has no “sense” of history – no appreciation for the phases of our own social evolution – and as a result, no vision for the future.

The presidential historian Michael Beschloss has said that, “Not all readers are leaders, but all real leaders are readers.”

There is no evidence that Trump has the attention span to read a lengthy daily intelligence briefing – much less the biographies and histories that have been devoured by former presidents like Kennedy and Obama.

These traits are weaknesses that can be exploited by adversaries – just as they were by Pelosi and Schumer. But they’re not state secrets – they’re out there for everybody to see. So they can also be exploited by foreign adversaries like Kim Jong Un.

And of course, one of the other key traits of successful leaders is trust. It is the trust others in the group have that the leader will do what is in their best interests – even at the sacrifice of his own. People need to believe that their leader will keep them safe and secure even if it means sacrificing himself in the process. A captain is always the lastperson to leave a sinking ship.

Great leaders project that sense of trust to their own team, to their followers, and to their allies.

Self-sacrifice, profiles-in-courage, trust – these are not words often spoken in the same sentence as the name “Donald Trump.”

Buckle up. Unless he is impeached or resigns, we have over three years left of his presidency. At least it won’t be boring and predictable – except in one respect. You can be certain that Donald Trump will always make decisions that he believes at the moment will benefit one person: Donald Trump.


Measuring the Political Influence of Fox News vs. MSNBC

In his column “Study: Democrats vulnerable to Fox News’s magical powers,” WaPo media commentator Erik Wemple looks at the political influence of the conservative network. Among Wemple’s observations:

“Were a viewer initially at the ideology of the median Democratic voter in 2008 to watch an additional 3 minutes of Fox News per week, her likelihood of voting Republican would increase by 1.03 percentage points,” reads the study by Gregory J. Martin and Ali Yurukoglu of Emory and Stanford universities, respectively. Another finding: Fox News holds more sway over Democrats than MSNBC holds over Republicans.

Numbers go with that assertion. According to the study, published in the American Economic Review, Fox News racked up “persuasion rates” of 58 percent in 2000, 27 percent in 2004 and 28 percent in 2008. What’s a persuasion rate, anyway? It’s a thingy in which the numerator measures Fox News viewers “who are initially Democrats but by the end of an election cycle change to supporting the Republican party. The denominator is the number of [Fox News] viewers who are initially Democrats.” Corresponding figures for MSNBC — Republicans converting to Democrats, that is — are 16 percent, 0 percent and 8 percent. Asked about Fox News’s Democratic audience, Martin told this blog via email, “Given Fox’s content, yes, it is likely that these Democrats are relatively less ideologically committed and more persuadable compared to Democrats who don’t watch Fox.”

At Vox, Dylan Matthews reports that “A stunning new study shows that Fox News is more powerful than we ever imagined: It could even be flipping elections.” Mathews adds,

Fox News is, by far, America’s dominant TV news channel; in the second quarter of 2017, Fox posted 2.35 million total viewers in primetime versus 1.64 million for MSNBC and 1.06 million for CNN. Given that Fox was founded by a longtime Republican Party operative and has almost exclusively hired conservative commentators, talk radio hosts, and the like to host its shows, it would stand to reason that its dominance on basic cable could influence how Americans vote, perhaps even tipping elections.

A new study in the American Economic Review (the discipline’s flagship journal), with an intriguing and persuasive methodology, finds exactly that. Emory University political scientist Gregory Martin and Stanford economist Ali Yurukoglu estimate that watching Fox News directly causes a substantial rightward shift in viewers’ attitudes, which translates into a significantly greater willingness to vote for Republican candidates.

They estimate that if Fox News hadn’t existed, the Republican presidential candidate’s share of the two-party vote would have been 3.59 points lower in 2004 and 6.34 points lower in 2008.

For context, that would’ve made John Kerry the 2004 popular vote winner, and turned Barack Obama’s 2008 victory into a landslide where he got 60 percent of the two-party vote.

Matthews continues,

The effects of CNN and MSNBC on centrist voters are mostly negligible; MSNBC, in 2000 and 2004, modestly increased odds of voting Republican, before it turned left in time for 2008. But Fox News increases Republican voting odds for centrists, for Democratic viewers, and even, in 2004 and 2008, for Republicans already strongly inclined to vote that way. Watching three minutes more of Fox News per week in 2008 would have made the typical Democratic or centrist voter 1 percentage point likelier to vote Republican that year.

“Fox is substantially better at influencing Democrats than MSNBC is at influencing Republicans,” the authors find. While most Fox viewers are Republican, a sizable minority aren’t, and they’re particularly suggestible to the channel’s influence. In 2000, they estimate that 58 percent of Fox viewers who were initially Democrats changed to supporting the Republican candidate by the end of the election cycle; in 2004, the persuasion rate was 27 percent, and 28 percent in 2008. MSNBC, by contrast, only persuaded 8 percent of initial Republicans to vote Democratic in the 2008 cycle.

These are big effects, with major societal implications. The authors find that the Fox News effect translates into a 0.46 percentage point boost to the GOP vote share in the 2000 presidential race, a 3.59-point boost in 2004, and a 6.34-point boost in 2008; the boost increases as the channel’s viewership grew. This effect alone is large enough, they argue, to explain all the polarization in the US public’s political views from 2000 to 2008.

…”Our estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 28 percent of its viewers to vote Republican, depending on the audience measure,” economists Stefano DellaVigna (Berkeley) and Ethan Kaplan (Maryland) found in a seminal 2007 paper.

Fox still has a lot of clout, but TV Newser’s A. J. Katz reports:

…For the 4th straight month, MSNBC finished 1st in A18-49 for weekday prime (M-F 8-11pm) in the month of August 2017, according to Nielsen. MSNBC averaged 364,000 viewers A18-49 (vs. FOX News’ 348,000 and CNN’s 358,000); 514,000 viewers A25-54 (vs. CNN’s 448,000); and 2.31 million viewers (vs. CNN’s 1.28 million viewers). In total viewers, MSNBC finished at #2 among all cable networks in weekday prime (ahead of HGTV and TBS, just behind FOX News), posting the network’s best viewer delivery ever and topping CNN in total viewers for the 9th month in a row. In A25-54, MSNBC also beat CNN for 6th month in a row. Additionally, MSNBC outpaced FOX News’ and CNN’s growth year over year in the key demographics: +62% in A18-49 (vs. FOX News’ +13% and CNN’s +39%), +61% in A25-54 (vs. FOX News’ +22% and CNN’s +44%), and +63% in total viewers (vs. FOX News’ +4% and CNN’s +32%).

MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” was the #1 show across all of cable news, beating FOX News and CNN in the key demographics of A25-54 and A18-49 and total viewers. This is the 6th consecutive month in A25-54 and the 4th straight month in total viewers that “Maddow” topped all of cable news. “Maddow” delivered its best total viewer delivery ever for a month, averaging 2.8 million total viewers and 630,000 viewers A25-54.

Writing in the conservative webzine, The Blaze, Chris Enloe explains why “Rachel Maddow is dominating cable news — and it’s not even close.” and notes, “When it came to the coveted 25-54 demographic, Maddow blew her competition out of the water. The liberal darling also led her competition in the younger 18-49 demographic.”

In addition to Maddow’s growing popularity, MSNBC has benefitted from improving viewership figures for both late evening liberal political talker Lawrence O’Donnell and center-right ‘Morning Joe’ Scarborough. Further, notes Enloe,

It’s not immediately clear what is leading to MSNBC’s ratings surge. But one has to believe that the shake-up plaguing Trump’s White House and near-constant unfavorable coverage of his administration is playing a part.

It’s likely that Fox News’ own turmoil has played a role in mediocre ratings. This year, the network has seen the departure of its two biggest stars — Megyn Kelly, who left for NBC News, and Bill O’Reilly, who was fired — while accusations of workplace sexual misconduct continue to plague the network.

Taking a step back and looking at the big picture, it’s clear that Fox News is still a powerful source of political opinion-shaping, but MSNBC’s influence is rising very fast. CNN is going to have to do some more creative news programming to get in the political influence game.

Television remains the the powerhouse in terms of political ad placement, as Steve Lozano reports in his post, “TV Continuses to Thrive in an Increasingly Digital World” at Campaigns & Elections.  It’s unclear, however, if TV News is still the dominant media for shaping political opinion and voter choices, given the rapidly rising influence of social media (even if much of it is ‘preaching to the choir’). What is absolutely certain is that Democratic candidates better have a savvy strategy in place for both.