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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

You won’t be shocked by Darius Dixon’s Politico report “Poll: GOPers say ‘too much’ media on Trayvon Martin.” Dixon notes a Pew Research survey which found that “Twice as many Republicans [56 percent] as Democrats [25 percent] say there’s been too much media coverage of the death of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin…Among Democrats, 38 percent said they were following Martin’s death more closely than other stories, while 19 percent of Republicans said that they were following the story more closely than other headlines.”
Republicans have an understandable reason to be nervous about the Trayvon Martin case — especially if it leads to a big uptick in African American voter enthusiasm and registration in Florida. Meanwhile, Florida is wasting no time in terms of voter suppression. As Ashley Lopez reports in the Florida Independent, “The Center for American Progress released a report today on voter suppression efforts carried out by Republican-led state legislatures around the country, listing Florida as one of “five worst states for voting rights in 2011″…Florida lawmakers passed a new voting law last year that has drawn fire from federal officials, legislators, advocacy groups and voting rights experts from all over the country. The many critics of the law have said the law is a concerted effort to keep minorities, young people, the elderly and the poor from the polls on Election Day…Florida’s contentious law places prohibitive rules and restrictions on third-party voter registration groups, creates a shortened “shelf life” for signatures collected for ballot initiatives, places new restrictions on voters changing their registered addresses on election day, and reduces the number of early voting days — among many other provisions…A report from the NAACP found that, as of last year, Florida actually has the “most restrictive” felon disenfranchisement “laws in the country.”…Florida is one of only four states in the country that “denies the right to vote permanently to all individuals convicted of any felony offense.”
John Gardner of The Guardian has an update on “Wisconsin: America’s democratic struggle laid bare” charting the forward progress of United Wisconsin’s recall campaign and prospects for the June recall vote. Gardner adds:”Whatever June’s results, United Wisconsin has already won two significant victories. State and federal court decisions have overturned Walker’s ban on workplace dues collection and annual recertification elections…And the recall elections have already created a significant opening for the pivotal 17th, majority vote in the state senate…If Democrats win even one of four contested recall state senate elections, they will recapture a majority, frustrating further legislative initiatives from Governor Walker and Republican representatives.”
At least one veteran pundit thinks Justice Kennedy’s line of questioning in the recent hearings on Obamacare was encouraging from the Administration’s perspective. As Clarence Page put it in his syndicated column, “…as Kennedy’s tough questions persisted, Kennedy sounded increasingly like he was searching less for ammunition than for reassurance…It’s hard to believe Kennedy didn’t know the answers to his questions before he asked them. But if he found good enough reasons to support the law, he could possibly win the support of Chief Justice John Roberts, whose court would sound more credible with a 6-3 decision than a 5-4.”
Robert I. Field, a professor of law at Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law and a professor of health management and policy at its School of Public Health, has an op-ed at the Philadelphia Inquirer arguing that an adverse ruling on the Affordable Care Act would make the public option inevitable. Says Field: “If the health-care law is struck down, it’s only a matter of time before Congress finds it has to address the issue again. The system cannot go on indefinitely with more than a sixth of the population uninsured and the number growing every year…And when Congress does revisit the subject, it would be boxed in by a ruling against the current law. It wouldn’t be able to rely on the private market, because that would require a mechanism to force healthy people into the risk pool…The only clearly constitutional large-scale reform would be a direct extension of coverage by the federal government. Is that what the law’s opponents and the conservative justices really want?”
President Obama is under fire for his recent warnings about the ramifications of an adverse Supreme Court ruling on the ACA. In their Bloomberg Businessweek article “Obama Risks Voter Backlash by Warning High Court on Health Law,” Greg Stohr and Seth Ster note that the president’s references to “judicial activism” by “an unelected group of people” are heightening concerns about political partisanship in the Supreme Court: “The case is testing the court’s standing as a nonpolitical body. A decision striking down the law would almost certainly be along party-based lines, with the five Republican-appointed justices joining to invalidate the measure and the four Democratic appointees dissenting…This will mark the first time the court has ruled on a president’s signature legislative accomplishment in the middle of his re-election campaign. The decision will probably come in late June, less than five months before the election.”
Meanwhile the New York Times’ Jackie Calmes discusses the “Court’s Potential to Goad Voters Swings to Democrats.” Calmes quotes Democratic pollster Geoff Garin: “Historically, the court has been a rallying point for the Republican base, and it is now much easier to imagine that it will be a rallying point with the Democratic base just as much if not more, especially if the court overturns the Affordable Care Act…My guess is that more voters will think, ‘If they can do that, they can do just about anything — and that includes overturning Roe v. Wade’ — the landmark 1973 abortion rights decision…In a poll for The Washington Post and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 32 percent of Democrats said they had a less favorable opinion of the Supreme Court after the hearings, compared with 14 percent of Republicans.”
Ed Kilgore’s “Another Terry Schiavo Moment” a The Washington Monthly shines fresh light on Judge Jerry Smith’s tantrum and GOP leaders’ gleeful reaction as “an incident providing a very public glimpse into a veiled, radical perspective that supposedly mainstream, respectable figures embraced.”
Dem candidates who could use some ammo to fight the onslaught of Big Biz “regulatory reform” should read Rich Robinson’s “Damage Done By Regulatory “Reform” at Demos. Tidbits: “In Pennsylvania alone, for each year the government fails to update the restriction on levels of toxic soot in the air the state will face 3,890 preventable deaths and 84,539 preventable asthma attacks among children…In Ohio, delaying the Affordable Care Act’s ban on health insurance companies discriminating against patients with pre- existing conditions for one year will put 65,060 newly diagnosed cancer patients at risk of being denied health insurance…Allowing food processors to delay one year before using new standards from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for safe handling of produce will cause approximately 200,000 local cases of foodborne illness–more than the entire city of Worcester.”
Richard Kahlenberg and Moshe Z. Marvit have an interesting idea for rebuilding America’s labor movement up at Slate.com, “What MLK Would Do ; How to make labor organizing a civil right.”

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