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

December 16, 2017

Political Strategy Notes

“The campaign for Virginia governor has divided voters along demographic lines highly reminiscent of last November’s presidential election, according to a New York Times Upshot/Siena College poll on Sunday, and the Democrat, Ralph Northam, holds a modest three-point lead over the Republican, Ed Gillespie, 43 percent to 40 percent,” reports Nate Cohn at The Upshot. “White voters without a college degree backed Mr. Gillespie by a 40-point margin in the poll, 63 percent to 23 percent, while nonwhite voters backed Mr. Northam by a similar margin, 65 to 17. Mr. Northam holds roughly a 10-point lead among college-educated white voters, enough to give him the edge statewide…The Democratic strength among well-educated voters — and the robust Democratic turnout in the primary for this race — gives the party more strength among high-turnout voters than has been the case in recent elections.”

Ball Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley, two of the top experts on Virginia politics, address “Signs and Portents” regarding Tuesday’s elections and offer this assessment of recent polling in VA: “Polls in the commonwealth have been all over the place. While most show a Northam lead, the spread is huge, ranging from a Hampton University poll showing Gillespie up eight points to a Quinnipiac University poll showing Northam up 17. If anything, one cannot accuse the pollsters of “herding” together at the end: There are going to be at least some pollsters who finish far from the eventual margin. Steve Shepard of Politico has noticed that many pollsters surveying Virginia have used polls based on calling people on voter lists, as opposed to random digit dialing calling a larger universe of people. The voter list polls, which mimic the techniques used by campaigns, find a narrower range of horse race predictions, from Gillespie by one to Northam by seven. That’s roughly the range of the internal campaign polls we’ve heard about throughout the race…The RealClearPolitics average puts Northam’s lead at about 3.5 points — not big enough to consider him more than a modest favorite, and only then because the small polling lead may be reinforced by the generic advantages any Democrat might have in this race…”

For those who will be looking for clues about Democratic prospects in next year’s midterm elections, Paul Kane has a tip in his article “Virginia’s election serves as a road map for 2018 congressional races” at PowerPost: “If [GOP gubernatorial nominee] Gillespie posts, for instance, a better-than-expected margin in the district of Rep. Barbara Comstock (R), that will reinforce such a position and lead to many more ads attacking “sanctuary cities” next summer and fall…If [Democratic nominess] Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam wins the district by a substantial margin, Democrats will feel much better. Comstock’s is one of 23 Republican-held districts that favored Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election. There are an additional 13 GOP-held seats in districts that previously voted for Obama but did not favor Clinton, and 14 more where either Obama or Clinton received at least 48 percent of the vote.”

Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains the stakes in tommorrow’s election for Governor of Virginia: “A Northam victory would send a signal to the country that President Trump is a severe drag on the GOP, especially if it were combined with Democratic pickups in the legislature. This would bolster the forces trying to contain Trump’s abuses and give heart to those doing the organizing work against him at the grass roots…It would tell Republicans in Congress that coddling and imitating Trump carry a high cost while strengthening Democratic efforts to recruit strong candidates for the 2018 midterms…A win by Gillespie would convey exactly the opposite message. It would ratify the Republican candidate’s vile and dishonest campaign tying Northam to felons and criminal gangs. This, in turn, would lead to more ugly racial and anti-immigrant appeals by GOP candidates next year. The party would decide that playing around with a few of Trump’s more hateful themes was the way to go…Gillespie decided he could win only by injecting Trump’s poison into his campaign. The antidote to noxious politics of this sort is to defeat it.”

Ed Kilgore underscores the pivotal importance of turnout in Virginia tomorrow: “Turnout could well be the deciding factor. While turnout among African-American voters in Virginia does not fall off as much in non-presidential races as it has done in many other states, the white percentage of the smaller off-year electorate is typically higher: 72 percent in 2013, and 78 percent in 2009, as opposed to 67 percent in 2016.”

The choice Alabama voters face in the upcoming (Dec. 12th) special election for U.S. Senator couldn’t be more clear, as Sean Sullivan explains in his update, “Doug Jones’s tricky two-step in deep-red Alabama: Exciting Democrats and winning over Republicans, too” at PowerPost: “In an unexpectedly competitive Senate race that both national parties are watching closely, [Democratic nominee Doug] Jones is trying to pull off a challenging and at times conflicting two-step. In a state where Democrats make up less than a third of the electorate, Jones must turn out as many of them as he can — and win over enough Republican voters, too…The result has been a strategy that includes criticizing Moore, casting himself as a pragmatist and making a direct appeal to the Democratic base by embracing some liberal positions — and touting his role prosecuting two Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a black church in Birmingham in 1963, killing four girls…The Dec. 12 special election for the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions will mark the first Senate election of Trump’s term. At a moment of intensifying partisan rancor, it will test the public’s appetite in the heart of Trump country: Do the voters of Alabama want a bridge-builder in Congress, or a rabble-rouser in the president’s mold?”

Meanwhile, right-wing fake news media is posting headlines linking the Texas massacre shooter to Antifa, on the eve of Tuesday’s elections. But SNOPES says that’s bullshite.

Democrats should get some encouragement from Dante Chinni’s Wall St. Journal article, “Poll Shows Trump Sliding Among White Working-Class Voters,” which notes, “The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found signs that President Donald Trump’s support is eroding in important segments of his base: white Americans without a four-year college education and self-described white working-class voters…Mr. Trump won the non-degree group by more than 30 percentage points in the 2016 election, making it a core source of support. In the new poll, his job approval dropped 7 points in that group, falling to 51% in October from 58% in September. Among self-described white working-class respondents…”

Robert Draper’s New York Times Magazine article, “A Post-Obama Democratic Party in Search of Itself,” includes this assessment of Democratic prospects in 2018: “…Nine months into Trump’s presidency, the chances of the Democrats’ retaking the House are much better. Multiple polls in recent months have shown generic Democratic candidates beating generic Republicans by as many as 15 points — a spread that, in past elections, correlatedwith winning more than enough seats for the Democrats to gain a House majority next year. And if they do, the consequences will be enormous. A Democrat-controlled House in 2019 would very likely derail the Republican legislative agenda. It could also conceivably set the stage for impeachment proceedings against the president — a move that many Democrats have openly proposed for months now.”


Trump Tax Bill Repeals Ban on Politicking From the Pulpit

Something strange and interesting is popping up almost hourly that is half-hidden in the new Trump tax legislation. I wrote about one such item this week at New York.

Nestled in the new House tax bill is a provision that doesn’t have a big (if any) impact on federal revenues, raise or lower anyone’s tax rates, or really change much of anything, at least in the short run. Yet it represents a major political payoff by Donald Trump and the Republican Party to a very important electoral constituency: conservative Evangelical clergy. It would repeal the Johnson Amendment, the 1954 law (sponsored by then-senator Lyndon Johnson, who was angry at a right-wing nonprofit group that was attacking him in Texas) that prohibits tax-exempt charitable organizations, including churches, from such partisan electioneering activities as endorsing candidates.

The Johnson Amendment is rarely enforced, and is thus something of a phantom threat. Indeed, once a year since 2008 conservative ministers have held a “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” on which they address blatantly political topics in order to defy the Johnson Amendment, without consequence. But the law has gotten all tangled up in conservative Evangelical paranoia about “religious liberty” being under attack from secular-socialist political enemies. And so Donald Trump made repealing it one of his principal campaign promises to Christian-right activists. It was even included in the 2016 Republican Platform. In his first speech as president to a distinctly religious audience, he amped up the rhetoric, promising to “destroy” the Johnson Amendment, something actually not within his power.

But it is within Congress’ power, which is how it wound up in this tax bill.

It’s an almost entirely symbolic gesture so long as the IRS continues to give churches (and other tax-exempt organizations) that violate the Johnson Amendment a wide berth. It could, however, have a significant impact on campaign-finance practices down the road, if political donors figure out they can get a tax deduction for contributing to churches that intend to spend the money on particular parties or candidates. Last year Emma Green predicted conservative Evangelical churches could wind up becoming “the new super-PACs” if the Johnson Amendment was repealed.

For now, though, the drive to repeal the Johnson Amendment is most notably an example of Donald Trump’s transactional relationship with the Christian right and with white conservative Evangelical voters. He doesn’t much bother to even pretend to share their religiosity, but he does make them very specific political promises — notably turning over his entire judicial vetting process to hard-core conservatives guaranteed to produce nominees like Neil Gorsuch who are reliably aligned with Christian-right views on hot-button constitutional issues — and keeps them. So repealing the Johnson Amendment is just another layer of concrete in the foundation of trust between this heathenish president and his loyal conservative Christian flock.


Polls Show Widespread Doubts About GOP Tax ‘Reform’

From James Hohman at The Washington Post Daily 202:

What’s clear from numerous polls in recent weeks and months is that Americans across the political spectrum don’t think the wealthy or big businesses should get a tax cut. And few see taxes as the top issue Congress should tackle,” Heather Long writes on Wonkblog. “What does have solid support in recent polls is tax cuts for small businesses and the middle and lower classes.”

A Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll released Sunday found that only 25 percent think the tax bill is a “good idea.”

A Politico-Morning Consult poll published yesterday showed 48 percent “support” or “somewhat support” a tax bill. But sentiment dropped sharply when people are asked about some of the specifics that will be in the GOP bill, especially a tax cut for business.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll in September asked, “Do you support or oppose Trump’s tax plan?” 28 percent said they “strongly” or “somewhat” supported the plan; 73 percent believe that the current tax system favors the wealthy; and 65 percent believe businesses pay too little.

A CBS poll released Wednesday found 80 percent think that taxes for big business should stay the same or go up; 56 percent said Trump’s plan will benefit the rich, while 13 percent said it would benefit the middle class; and 70 percent said Congress should address other issues before passing a tax bill.

Gallup found this April that 51 percent of Americans feel their taxes are “too high.” In 1985, the last time the system was overhauled, 63 percent felt that way.

Yet, despite such poll numbers, there is a real danger that the legislation could pass and be signed into law. As Harry Enten notes at FiveThirtryEight, “Luckily for the Republicans, tax reform isn’t a top issue for most Americans. If that continues to be the case, voter opinion might not greatly affect the bill’s chance of passage.”


#NeverTrumper Republicans Release a Cry of Despair

If you are having a bad day in politics, it’s worth remembering there are some political people who almost ever have a good day. I wrote about them for New York.

As David Weigel of the Washington Post explains today, the core of the #NeverTrump movement has been regularly getting together under the auspices of a group calling itself the Meeting of the Concerned.

A lot of familiar names are apparently still in the movement: Weekly Standard editor William Kristol (who said of Trump “he’s dead to me” after the mogul’s infamous 2015 dismissal of John McCain’s POW saga); columnists Mona Charen (long associated with National Review, the magazine that early in 2016 devoted an entire issue to an effort to delegitimize Trump among conservatives) and Max Boot (a foreign-policy expert who has repeatedly challenged Trump’s mental fitness for office); Evan McMullin (who actually ran against Trump in the 2016 general election as an independent candidate); and a couple of ex-congressmen, Bob Inglis and David Jolly.

As Weigel reports, this gang of discontents have decided to issue a public statement “asking congressional Republicans to preempt any presidential action against Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.” But ironically, what appears to have motivated them to do so is the recognition that they’ve lost the battle and the whole GOP’s in the tank for Trump.

“In interviews, members of the Meeting of the Concerned said that the Mueller issue forced their hand. Several said that the influence of conservative media, especially the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News, Wall Street Journal and New York Post, made them worry that the president would fire Mueller and spark a constitutional crisis. Charen pointed to a weekend of Wall Street Journal op-eds that laid out a case for ending the Russia probe, building on months of attacks on Mueller’s integrity.”

But if The Wall Street Journal has been “Trumpified,” of what value is this motley crew of dissenters? And who is likely to be listening on Capitol Hill, particularly with the like-minded Jeff Flake and Bob Corker headed for the exits? Nobody, it seems, according to their own assessment, as articulated by McMullin’s former running mate Mindy Finn:

“‘There’s a leadership vacuum,’ Finn said. ‘Ideally we’d have more members of Congress standing up for the rule of law, being willing to challenge the president. Given that they’re not doing that, we felt that groups like this need to exist and need to speak out.'”

So this statement is less a rallying cry than a cry of despair aimed at the history books more than at today’s historymakers. Or perhaps some of them are genuinely motivated by the moral hazard of associating themselves with the president so many fellow conservatives now idolize:

“‘Donald Trump is reshaping the heart of the GOP into something that is very dark and very diseased,’ said [former congressman] Inglis. ‘My nightmare scenario is a Republican Party that loses its soul. It’s one thing to lose an election. It’s another to lose your soul.'”

And it’s another thing altogether to lose your party to Donald J. Trump.


Political Strategy Notes

In his New York Times op-ed “America is Not a ‘Center-Right Nation,'” New York Magazine Daily Intelligencer columnist Eric Levitz writes “…The Republican Party’s dominance has little to do with the American electorate’s “center-right” ideology. We know this for two simple reasons: First, the vast majority of that electorate has no ideology, whatsoever. And second, when polled on discrete policy questions, Americans consistently express majoritarian support for a left-of-center economic agenda…The political scientist Philip Converse first brought the first reality to national attention in 1964. In his classic essay “The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics,” Mr. Converse demonstrated that only 17 percent of American voters could both correctly assign the terms “liberal” and “conservative” to the nation’s two major political parties and offer a sensible description of what those terms meant. The rest of the electorate did not understand politics as a fight over abstract theories of good government but rather a conflict between interest groups. Ordinary voters did not select the party that most faithfully represented their political philosophy — they picked the one that appeared to best represent their people, a group they might define with reference to class, region, religion, race or partisanship itself…while it’s true that fewer Americans self-identify as liberal than as moderate or conservative, this tells us almost nothing about voters’ policy views. “Moderates” do not actually display a preference for “centrist” positions, but merely for ideologically inconsistent ones.”

Levitz goes on to document strongly liberal public preferences for a range of policies and notes, “When we look past ideological self-identification to polling on discrete public policy questions, America appears to be far more center-left than center-right. In a recent analysis of Democracy Fund Voter Study Group survey data, the political scientist Lee Drutman found that 73.5 percent of the 2016 electorate espoused broadly left-of-center views on economic policy…Most voters cast their ballots on the basis of identity, not policy. And America’s rapidly changing demographics — and the right’s steadfast efforts to inflame and exploit anxieties about those changes — have made racial identity increasingly salient to white voters, particularly rural ones…Democrats have all kinds of ways of addressing this problem. One would be to cultivate the class identity of white voters by embracing populist rhetoric that paints “the billionaire class” as an out-group they can define themselves against. Another would be to invest more resources into registering nonwhite voters.”

Regarding the Mueller probe, “Statements from top Democratic officials in Washington suggested the party line is, at the highest levels, focused on putting the process ahead of the politics — to reinforce the guardrails rather than try to map out the road ahead….Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi warned against any kind of move by the administration to interfere with Mueller’s work. Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, also urged bipartisan action in the event Trump moved to pardon himself or “any of his associates…the track record for political parties seen to be pushing for the removal of an elected leader for partisan reasons, both in this country and abroad, is not a good one. Republicans paid for their overreach in impeaching President Bill Clinton in late 1998. — From Gregory Krieg’s CNN Politics post, “Democrats’ Mueller strategy: Stay out of the way.”

That seems to be the case for Dems at the state level as well. At The Daily 202, James Hohman explores why “Ohio Democrats say talking about Mueller’s probe is not the way to win in 2018,” and notes that “While Washington elites are fixated on Robert Mueller, the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party is doing everything he can to prevent his activists and candidates from becoming distracted by the special counsel and his next moves….“Let me just put it this way: We don’t spend a lot of time around here talking about Vladimir Putin and James Comey,” David Pepper said in an interview here Sunday. “I’m as frustrated as anyone by what Comey did and that Putin interfered, and Congress should get to the bottom of that, but if that’s what we talk about … we will lose again…My attitude is let’s fix the things we can fix, and the way we really win is by getting a core message that appeals across all 88 counties,” Pepper said.” What is that message? In short: It’s still the economy, stupid. Democrats feel like they can both galvanize their own base and win over people who voted for Barack Obama but defected to Donald Trump by prosecuting the case that the president has not delivered on his populist promises.”

What does the public think about the GOP tax proposals so far? Ed Kilgore has some polling data in his column at New York Magazine: “At this early point, the whole bill has some image problems, with the corporate tax cuts being a particularly hard sell. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal survey shows that only 25 percent of respondents think “Trump’s tax plan” is a “good idea,” with 35 percent adjudging it as a “bad idea,” and the rest undecided. A Morning Consult poll offers better overall numbers for the tax bill (48 percent supporting, 37 percent opposing), but shows only 39 percent favoring a corporate tax rate cut (with 41 percent opposing). And a CBS News poll indicates that a firm majority of voters favor a tax increase for “large corporations.”…It’s worth noting that just about all the big corporate priorities in this legislation are treated with suspicion, if not hostility, by the general public, even in the relatively upbeat Morning Consult assessment. Only 29 percent support a move to a territorial system for taxation of overseas profits, and a lukewarm 38 percent favor the ability to immediately write off business investment costs.

Gregory S. Schneider explains why “For the Democrat in the Va. governor’s race, victory may hinge on black voters,” and observes “African Americans make up about 20 percent of Virginia’s electorate, and a surge in black voting has been decisive in recent statewide elections. Democratic candidates were the beneficiaries, tilting what had been a reliably red state into full swing status…But that wave shows signs of ebbing, and some argue that the Democratic ticket led by gubernatorial nominee Ralph Northam hasn’t done enough to energize black voters and ensure a big turnout against Republican Ed Gillespie…African Americans turned out to vote in the 2013 governor’s race at roughly the same rate as Virginians overall and made the difference for Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in a narrow win. This year, African Americans are somewhat less likely than whites to say they are certain to vote or are following the race closely, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll released Tuesday. A new Post-Schar School poll finds Northam leading Gillespie 89 percent to 8 percent among black likely voters, almost identical to McAuliffe’s margin of 90 percent to 8 percent four years ago.” Among the criticism of Democratic leadership’s campaign in support of nominee Ralph Northam, Schneider writes that, while Dems have been investing in Black voter turnout in Virginia and President Obama  and other African American leaders have campaigned for Northam, “Democrats have been curiously low-key in pointing out that Fairfax, the nominee for lieutenant governor, would be the first African American elected statewide since Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.”

David Weigel’s PowerPost article “Democrats will lose unless they turn ‘rigged’ message back on Trump” cites a key concern foer Dems, looking toward the midterm elections: “Warning of a “weakening Democratic brand,” pollsters working for a progressive nonprofit are encouraging the minority party to run on a clear, populist platform in 2018 — or risk an election where voters don’t see them as alternatives to the Trump administration…“Trump is hated, but he is not collapsing and is stable on many parts of his identity and job performance,” pollsters Stan Greenberg and Nancy Zdunkewicz wrote in a polling memo prepared for Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, a nonprofit organization. “Democrats must make the main choice in this election about how the Republicans in Congress have gone back on their promises on health care and protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”..The poll results, which were provided to The Washington Post on Wednesday night, revisit a pool of voters from the “rising American electorate” — young, diverse and less prone to voting — that was first studied in June. Since the summer, despite President Trump’s struggles, those voters told the pollsters that they’d become a bit less inclined to vote for Democrats in 2018. A 31-point Democratic margin shrank to a 21-point margin.”

Martin Longman’s Washington Monthly post, “Evidence in Jon Ossoff Election Is Destroyed” notes that “Georgia’s election system was sitting insecure on the internet for months and was easily accessible by hackers. The problem was discovered ahead of time and the state was taken to court in an effort to prevent them from using the unprotected system for the special election between Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff.  But the election was held anyway and now we’ll never know if the results were legitimate.” Now that it has been revealed that computer servers were wiped clean, including back-up servers, at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system, there appears to be little hope that any theft of votes can be detected. Longman argues that “a well-designed hack would not be detectable even if all this information had been preserved and turned over for forensic analysis. The fact that all the evidence was deliberately destroyed right before it was going to be requested by a federal court is more of an acknowledgment of guilt than a necessary step in this kind of conspiracy.”

At Ars Technica, David Kravetz notes a new federal initiative to curb vote hacking: “This summer, DefCon’s “Voting Machine Hacking Village” turned up a host of US election vulnerabilities (PDF). Now, imagine a more mainstream national hacking event backed by the Department of Homeland Security that has the same goal: to discover weaknesses in voting machines used by states for local and national elections…That might just become a reality if federal legislation (PDF) unveiled Tuesday becomes law. The proposal comes with a safe harbor provision to exempt participants from federal hacking laws. Several federal exemptions for ethical hacking that paved the way for the DefCon hacking village expire next year…The bipartisan “Securing America’s Voting Equipment Act” also would provide election funding to the states and would designate voting systems as critical infrastructure—a designation that would open up communication channels between the federal government and the states to share classified threat information…”Until we set up a stronger set of protections for our election systems and take the necessary steps to prevent future foreign influence campaigns, our nation’s democratic institutions will remain vulnerable,” Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) told reporters.”


Teixeira: Trump May Be Losing Support of Working-Class Whites

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist: Why the 21st Century Will Be Better Than You Think and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

Trump has hit a new low in his job approval ratings. As the Washington Post notes:

trump approvals

On Sunday evening, a poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal indicated that Trump’s approval rating had hit a new low, sinking to 38 percent. More worrisome for the president? Since September, the drop was biggest among independents, whites and whites without a college degree — key components of the coalition that won Trump the White House. NBC and the Journal also reported that the 38 percent rating was lower than any other president had seen at a similar point in their first terms in the modern era.
On Monday, new data from Gallup reiterated that same message. In Gallup’s daily tracking poll, which looks at three days of national polling, Trump’s approval rating hit a new low of 33 percent and his disapproval a new high of 62 percent. The net approval — those who approve minus those who disapprove — hit a new low at minus-29.

The decline among working class whites is particularly noteworthy. Without strong support from these voters, Trump is in big trouble. This is a trend to watch.


Linkon and Russo: Economic Nationalism and the Half-Life of Deindustrialization

The following article by Sherry Linkon and John Russo, authors of Steeltown U.S.A.: Work and Memory in Youngstownis cross-posted from Working-Class Perspectives:

In a 60 Minutes interview in September, Steven Bannon touted his form of economic nationalism and suggested that Democrats like Senator Sherrod Brown and U.S Representative Tim Ryan understood his economic vision, even if they didn’t agree with him. It was fitting that he name-checked Brown and Ryan, as both come from Northeast Ohio, where the history of deindustrialization began 40 years ago this fall. On September 19th, 1977 — known locally as “Black Monday” — Youngstown Sheet and Tube announced that it was shutting down, kicking off a wave of steel mill closings that would displace more than 40,000 area workers basic steel and steel-related industries.

At the time, some explained deindustrialization as part of the “natural economic order.” Borrowing the term from Joseph Schumpeter, economists and business leaders saw the closings as part of an evolutionary process, a form of “creative destruction” that caused temporary hardships but would lead both capital and labor to more productive activities.  While commentators acknowledged that the process was difficult and uncomfortable, they insisted that the ultimate outcome would be economic growth and a higher standard of living.

Eager to validate such promises, local leaders brought in an array of speakers, including Irving Kristol and Michael Novak from the American Enterprise Institute, who gave public lectures at Youngstown State University. Both insisted that the Mahoning Valley would prosper over time as new industries took root and workers retrained for new jobs. It was all part of what Novak called The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.


Texting Beats Email for GOTV — Big Time

Raven Brooks, chief operating officer of Vote.org, has a post up at Campaigns & Elections showing a strong edge for texting over email as a tool for getting out the vote. Here’s the lede and the link:

At the beginning of the 2016 cycle, we felt that text messages held promise based on some existing studies done by our peers in the civic engagement world. They were promising, but not done with large sample sizes because on the whole most campaigns organizations hadn’t invested much in mobile programs yet. We were eager to build on their work and run some larger studies as well as testing a new mode of contact.

In 2014 the Analyst Institute conducted a study of texting with around 150,000 participants. They found this increased turnout in that midterm year by 0.9 and 1.4 percent for “plan-making” texts (those that get the voter to go through the mental process of planning how they will get to the polls). The program operated at an incredibly low cost when looking at cost per vote, especially compared to other modes of contact.

At vote.org, we ran three experiments in 2016 using SMS for voter registration and two varieties of GOTV. But before we get into the findings, some explanation of terminology is in order.

MORE


Political Strategy Notes

At CNN Politics, Teddy Davis and Abigail Crutchfield of “Biblio,” CNN’s book review program, conduct an illuminating interview with Joan Williams, author of “White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America.” Williams share several revealing insights, including this tip: “Biblio: The media tends to treat every other Trump tweet as a major controversy. What part of his presidency do you think the white working class is actually focused on? What are they going to judge him on? Williams: A lot of them voted with their middle finger. Trump had very high unlikability, but he has a lot of appeal, because he drives the elites nuts. Just constantly attacking Trump threatens to marry his base to him even more because if he’s driving the elites that nuts, we love him. This obsession with Trump’s tweets allows him to control the conversation, and that is not working for us. We need to be having a sustained discussion about whether he’s giving Americans the jobs he’s promised.”

Williams also has a knack for pinpointing the kind of language Dems should be using in discussing controversial social issues, as she shares in this exchange: “Biblio: Your book ends with advice for Democrats about how to talk about hot-button issues. On abortion, you recommend describing the Democratic position as “pro-child, pro-choice, pro-family” versus a more “egocentric” message about “my body, my choice.” For Democrats, is this just a communications problem? Or does there need to be a policy shift? Williams: I think both are right. One of the reasons Republicans have been so incredibly successful at connecting with white working-class people is racism, that’s true. But another reason is they have made every issue into a “jobs issue.” Environmentalism they made into a jobs issue. Immigration, they made it into a jobs issue. You name it, they made it into a jobs issue.”

WaPo’s John Wagner and Scott Clement report that a The Washington Post-University of Maryland poll conducted in September indicates thatr “Democrats have a clear advantage in public trust, with 56 percent of Americans saying they think the party generally represents their political views, compared with 43 percent of Americans saying the Republican Party does the same. A 55 percent majority says the Republican Party mainly opposes their views, and 60 percent say the same of Trump. The poll “finds that 7 in 10 Americans view the Trump administration as dysfunctional,” but “even more Americans, 8 in 10, say Congress is dysfunctional…About three-quarters of Democrats blame Trump “a lot” for causing dysfunction, as do more than half of political independents. But about 1 in 7 Republicans say Trump deserves “a lot” of blame.” Further, “Underscoring the partisan antipathy toward Trump, two-thirds of Democrats in the poll say they do not believe his election was legitimate — a view held by 9 percent of Republicans. Overall, 42 percent of Americans say Trump’s election was not legitimate. By comparison, 14 percent say former president Barack Obama’s 2008 election was not legitimate.

Syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. provides some succinct talking points for Democrats regarding the Republicans’ latest tax hustle, and he also spotlights a promising alternative measure Democrats should support that would clearly resonate with middle class voters: “…Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) have introduced a bill that would dramatically expand the child tax credit to $3,600 a year per child for those age 0 to 5, and $3,000 a year for those 6 to 18. To direct the most assistance to the poor and the less affluent parts of the middle class, the credit begins gradually to phase out for incomes of single parents at $75,000 a year and married couples at $110,000…The plan, Matthews writes, would cut child poverty in the country almost in half, from 16.1 to 8.9 percent. The cost: roughly $1 trillion over a decade, as against the $1.5 trillion Republicans claim would be the net price of their tax cuts after they are done shuffling the tax code around.”

A half-hour teach-in on partisan gerrymandering from the Princeton Election Consortium:

According to The Associated Press, “A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed…The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system. The data wipe was revealed in an email sent last week from an assistant state attorney general to plaintiffs in the case that was later obtained by the AP. More emails obtained in a public records request confirmed the wipe…The lawsuit, filed July 3 by a diverse group of election reform advocates, aims to force Georgia to retire its antiquated and heavily criticized election technology…Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, mostly Georgia voters, want to scrap the state’s 15-year-old vote-management system — particularly its 27,000 AccuVote touchscreen voting machines, hackable devices that don’t use paper ballots or keep hardcopy proof of voter intent. The plaintiffs were counting on an independent security review of the Kennesaw server, which held elections staging data for counties, to demonstrate the system’s unreliability…Wiping the server “forestalls any forensic investigation at all,” said Richard DeMillo, a Georgia Tech computer scientist following the case. “People who have nothing to hide don’t behave this way.” The poll raises questions about the outcome of the GA-6 run-off election on June 20,in  which Jon Ossoff lost to Clare Handel by a margin of 51.8 to 48.3 percent.

In his New York Times op-ed, “The Silence of the Democrats.” Michael Tomasky, editor of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas and columnist for The Daily Beast, writes “The Democrats are undergoing a historic transformation, from being the party that embraced neoliberalism in the early 1990s to one that is rejecting that centrist posture and moving left. There’s plenty about this to cheer — the neoliberal Democratic Party didn’t do nearly enough to try to arrest growing income inequality, among other shortcomings…There will be necessary internecine fights, and they boil down to loyalty tests on particular positions demanded by the vanguard…Forget about who’s right and wrong in these debates. Time will sort that out. My point is that they tend to consume a party experiencing a shift. The Democratic Party, because it is an amalgam of interest groups in a way the Republican Party is not, has always had a tendency to elevate the candidate who can check the most boxes…When the party’s leaders tussle over this or that policy, they also need to take a step back, to see the direction the country — the West itself — is heading, and take a stand on it.”

David Weigel reports at PowerPost that “The Democratic National Committee on Friday rejected a resolution that would have urged independents such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to “register or affiliate with the Democratic Party” next year, one of several small victories for the party’s left wing.” It was a horrible idea. Not only would it piss off a large constituency; it would also brand the Democrats as an intolerant, repressive, shrinking tent party. As James Zogby, the outgoing chairman of the DNC’s resolutions committee, put it, such a requirement  “puts salt in a wound that we need to be closing right now…”

Here’s the Wikipedia list of the “most listened to radio programs in the U.S. according to weekly cumulative listenership” —  which indicates that Democrats are getting creamed on talk radio daily and nation-wide by GOP-friendly talk shows, especially during drive time:

Program Format Network Broadcast Time Weekly listeners (in millions)

Morning Edition Newsmagazine NPR AM Drive 14.6
All Things Considered Newsmagazine NPR PM Drive 14.4
The Rush Limbaugh Show Conservative talk Premiere Midday 14
The Sean Hannity Show Conservative talk Premiere PM Drive 13.5
The Dave Ramsey Show Financial talk Self-syndicated Midday 13+
The Savage Nation Conservative talk Westwood One East Coast PM Drive 11
The Glenn Beck Program Conservative talk Premiere East Coast AM Drive 10.5
The Mark Levin Show Conservative talk Westwood One West Coast PM Drive 10
Coast to Coast AM Alternative reality talk Premiere Overnights 9
Marketplace Financial news APM PM Drive 8.7
Delilah Adult contemporary music Premiere Evenings <8
The Thom Hartmann Program Progressive talk Westwood One Midday 6.25
The Alex Jones Show Alt-right/conspiracy Self-syndicated Midday 5.9
Fresh Air Newsmagazine/talk NPR Midday 4.5
A Prairie Home Companion Variety show APM Weekends 3.5
Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! Panel game show NPR Weekends 3.2
Country Music Greats Radio Show Classic country music Syndication Networks, Inc. Twice weekly 3.2
The Hugh Hewitt Show Conservative talk Salem East Coast AM Drive 2.25+
The Lia Show Country music Westwood One Evenings 2+
The Kim Komando Show Digital lifestyle issues WestStar (self-syndicated) Weekends 2.5+

Do Democratic media mavens have a strategy for addressing this imbalance, or do they just sigh and shrug it off?