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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

John Sides has some revealing graphics up at The Washington Monthly which demolish the myth of “Independent” voters as a large, politically moderate third force.
From John Nichols’ wrap-up “Recall Campaign Against Scott Walker Fails” at The Nation: “The failure of the campaign against Walker, while heartbreaking for Wisconsin union families and the great activist movement that developed to counter the governor and his policies, offers profound lessons not just for Wisconsin but for a nation that is wrestling with fundamental questions of how to counter corporate and conservative power in a Citizens United moment…The “money power” populists and progressives of another era identified as the greatest threat to democracy has now organized itself as a force that cannot be easily thwarted even by determined “people power…The right has developed a far more sophisticated money-in-politics template than it has ever before employed. That template worked in Wisconsin, on behalf of a deeply divisive and scandal-plagued governor…There was, as well, a huge problem with messaging as regards the recall itself. Walker’s theme for the better part of year–reinforced in paid advertising and constant appearances on his favored news network, Fox–was that the recall election was a costly partisan temper tantrum. The criticism was never really countered.”
The Progressive editor Matthew Rothschild has harsh words for the white house and DNC for avoiding Wisconsin, but gives Walker some credit: “As much as I can’t stand the man, Walker proved to be a formidable candidate. He stayed on message. He was a pesky debater. He was unflappable. He cultivated a down-to-earth image with his jacket off and his shirtsleeves rolled up and his aw-shucks demeanor. And he said two plus two equals five with a straight face and basset eyes. Even as he had the worst jobs record of any governor in the country, he talked about how great he was creating jobs, and when the numbers weren’t in his favor, he wheeled out different numbers. Brazen, yes, but it worked…He flipped these numbers around by running ads on the airwaves all winter long, from Thanksgiving through the Super Bowl and right up to the Democratic primaries. Even on the night of those primaries, he was on the air bashing Tom Barrett.”
But Walker’s rising star may yet flame out in a swamp of criminal accusations, reports Matthew DeLuca at the Daily Beast.
Former Bush speechwriter/WaPo columnist Michael Gerson argues that the Wisconsin vote also reflects a legitimate concern about excessive pension commitments to public workers. He offers no Wisconsin data to support his point, but it would be interesting to find out if the pro-Walker ad campaign leveraged the meme.
Looking for an antidote to progressive demoralization in the wake if Wisconsin? Check out this program for the 7th Annual Netroots Nation, beginning today in Providence, RI.
Looking toward the next possible blow to Democratic prospects, Greg Stohr’s “Voting-Rights Surprise at High Court May Foreshadow Health Care” at Bloomberg Businessweek offers this chilling note: “The secret to successful advocacy is simply to get the court to ask your opponent more questions,” Roberts wrote in a law review article adapted from a speech he gave on Supreme Court arguments. More comprehensive studies have reached similar conclusions…The chief justice himself was one-sided in the health-care case, interjecting 23 times during [U.S. Solicitor General} Verrilli’s hour on the insurance requirement and only seven times as opponents of the law made their arguments. Kennedy interrupted Verrilli six times, compared with four times during the other side’s time.”
Mike Hall reports at AFL-CIO Now that “ALEC Resignations Grow, Pressure on Others Mounts“: “For those of us keeping score, 19 major corporations and 54 state legislators have cut their ties with the extremist American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Now pressure is mounting for other major corporations to join the exodus from ALEC and its agenda of voter suppression, union-busting and immigrant bashing.”
L.A. Times reporters Jean Merl and Richard Simon say “California’s new setup a hurdle for Democrats’ bid to retake House.”

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