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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Paul Kane’s WaPo survey, “Democrats have real chance to hold on to Senate majority” cites Sen. Lugar’s defeat by Richard Mourdock as a big break for Dems.
According to the latest update on the battle for control of congress by Larry J. Sabato and Kyle Kondik, “A good early bet is for the margins of control to narrow in both houses of Congress. Republicans should win the House of Representatives again, but Democrats will pick up some seats, maybe cutting the GOP majority of 25 by a third or (only if Obama wins handily) by as much as half. The Senate appears likely to be very narrowly divided, with Democrats holding on by a seat or, more likely, Republicans gaining technical control by a seat or two. It might even come down to a tie-breaking vote by the newly elected vice president or the eventual party-choice decision of Maine’s Angus King, the Independent frontrunner for Republican Olympia Snowe’s Senate seat. We believe he’ll ultimately caucus with the Democrats, but there’s a lot that can happen between now and next January that might change that calculus.”
Mourdock is a tough, experienced campaigner, as Politico’s David Catanese points out. But he has some huge vulnerabilities, as Guy Cecil, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, notes in Paul Steinhauser’s CNN.com report: “Richard Mourdock is a right wing Tea Party ideologue who questioned the constitutionality of Medicare and Social Security, says there should be more partisanship and less compromise in Washington, and actually compared himself to Rosa Parks.”
Although some Dems lament the defeat of Lugar (see here) as the loss of a “model for collegiality,” Michael Tomasky argues at the Daily Beast that it’s not such a great loss for bipartisanship, since Sen. Lugar caved to wingnut lunacy when he could have provided leadership for moderation. “Lugar did not support a single really major Obama initiative,” notes Tomasky. “What today’s GOP needs is a Margaret Chase Smith moment. Smith, the moderate GOP senator who was the first of her party to denounce the demagoguery of Joe McCarthy. In fact, take few minutes right now if you can and read the “Declaration of Conscience” by Smith and six other Republican senators from June 1, 1950, and consider whether you can imagine any national Republican voicing such sentiments today, being so critical of her or his own party.”
Tim Jones points notes in his Bloomberg Businessweek post, “Wisconsin Republican Voters Rival Democrats in Recall” that Gov. Scott Walker that Republicans had a strong GOTV effort in their primary, more than matching the Democratic turnout for all candidates in their primary. Democratic candidate Tom Barrett needs more dough to beat Gov. Walker in the recall election, and Dems who want to help recall Walker can make contributions at his ActBlue web page.
Yes, it’s just a snapshot, but this AP-GfK Poll suggests that President Obama might pick up some votes by moving a little more strongly toward disengagement from Afghanistan between now and November.
I don’t see a huge downside for President Obama because of his new position on same-sex marriage. Half of Americans support same-sex marriage, and at least some opponents of same-sex marriage will be OK with his leaving marriage legislation up to the states. And most of those who feel strongly that he shouldn’t even express personal sympathy with gay and lesbian couples who want to marry aren’t going to vote for him any way. It could be a net plus in terms of energizing a large constituency (4% self-identified as gay, lesbian of bisexual in 2008 exit polls, with an estimated 601,209 “same-sex, unmarried partner households” in the U.S.).
Apparently Romney gets very uncomfortable with questions about medical marijuana, which could reflect his fear of alienating young voters.
In a welcome counter-attack against voter suppression, the Connecticut state legislature has passed a bill providing for same-day and on-line voter registration, which is expected to increase voter turnout by 4-5 percent overall, more for people of color, youth and other groups.

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