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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At Roll Call, Meredith Shiner’s “Obama Budget Strategy Irks Democrats” quotes a senior administration official” saying that the President’s much criticized budget proposals are “intended as more of an olive branch to Republicans than an outline of Obama’s view of the budget and economy…The president has made clear that he is willing to compromise and do tough things to reduce the deficit, but only in the context of a package like this one that has balance and includes revenues from the wealthiest Americans and that is designed to promote economic growth.”
NYT’s Jackie Calmes clarifies President Obama’s proposed chained c.p.i. reform: “Under the president’s budget, the government would shift in 2015 from the standard Consumer Price Index — used to compute cost-of-living increases for Social Security and other benefits and to set income-tax brackets — to what is called a “chained C.P.I.” The new formulation would slow the increase in benefits and raise income tax revenues by putting some taxpayers into higher brackets sooner, for total savings of $230 billion over 10 years…Even so, he emphasized that his support is contingent on Republicans agreeing to higher taxes from the wealthy and new spending, in areas like infrastructure, to create jobs.”
Greg Sargent notes in his Plum Line post “Obama makes Republicans an offer they will refuse” that “The response from liberals to Obama’s latest offer has been threefold: They have denounced Chained CPI as terrible policy. They argue offering concessions to Republicans up front can only lead to giving up more concessions. And they note that positioning to win over the Very Serious People either won’t work — since the deficit scolds will never acknowledge that one side is more to blame than the other — or won’t politically matter over time.”
Tim Dickenson has “The Five Most Outrageous Facts About Our Broken Voting System” in Rolling Stone. They include: 1. African-American voters wait in line nearly twice as long as white voters; 2. Hispanic voters wait in line one-and-a-half times as long as white voters; 3. True-blue Democrats wait in line 45 percent longer than red-bleeding Republicans; 4. Voting in Florida remains a shitshow – even compared to other big states; and 5. The federal Election Assistance Commission is on its last legs. It is supposed to have four commissioners. It currently has four vacancies. All five of these facts were created by Republicans.
So how popular is same-day voter registration, which the Republicans have been trying to repeal in various states and localities across the country? An editorial at The Cap Times says that “In Maine, after Gov. Paul LePage and his Republican allies in the legislature ended the 38-year-old practice of allowing voters to register on election day, citizens petitioned in 2011 to overturn the governor’s assault on voting rights…Maine voted 60-40 percent to restore same-day registration…In Milwaukee, voters were asked if they wanted to retain election day registration. By a 73-27 percent margin they said “yes.”…In Dane County [WI], they faced the same question. The vote was even more lopsided, with 82 percent voting “yes.”…The Maine referendum was binding. The Wisconsin votes were advisory. But the message is the same.”
Micah Cohen takes stock of “Which Governors Are Most Vulnerable in 2014?” at FiveThirtyEight, and finds that “The two most unpopular governors up for re-election in 2014 are Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, an independent, and Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois, a Democrat. But the remaining eight governors with net negative job approval ratings are Republicans, including four who rode the Tea Party wave to power in blue and purple states in 2010 and now appear to be in some danger: Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, Gov. Paul LePage of Maine and Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan.”
Lois Beckett’s ProPublica report “Voter Information Wars: Will the GOP Team Up With Wal-Mart’s Data Specialist?” provides an interesting update on the Dem-GOP data mining race. Beckett notes, for example, “…The [Obama] campaign used the television-watching data it acquired to figure out exactly what shows the voters they wanted to reach were watching, all of which made for more cost-effective ad placements…The result? The Obama campaign bought more targeted ads, while spending less per television spot than the Romney campaign, according to data collected by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group.”
Cass R. Sunstein, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University, has an interesting review article “Moneyball for Judges: The statistics of judicial behavior” at The New Republic. There are no huge surprises in the data Sunstein presents from ” The Behavior of Federal Judges: A Theoretical and Empirical Study of Rational Choice” by Lee Epstein, William M. Landes and Richard A. Posner. As one passage notes “Justice Scalia is significantly more conservative than Chief Justice Roberts, and Justice Ginsburg is significantly more liberal than Justice Sotomayor…The authors find that a large number of justices change over time. Of the twenty-three justices who served for a minimum of fifteen terms, four drifted to the right, and no fewer than eight drifted to the left. In general, those shifts were not massive–not a wholesale conversion experience, but an unmistakable movement toward a greater degree of moderation.” Yet, as Sunstein concludes, “The good news is that statistical analysis and quantitative measures are enabling us to go far beyond the intuitions and anecdotes that have long dominated academic and public discussions of government’s third branch.”
John Avlon’s CNN.com headline says it well — “GOP’s cowardly gun filibuster threat.” As Avlon says, “Republicans are doubling down on irrational appeals and trying to block debate…That’s another reason this position is infuriatingly stupid — it compounds the number one negative perception about the Republican Party. Namely, that it is “inflexible and unwilling to compromise.”
Yet more evidence that the AFL-CIO needs it’s own television network: At Truthout MIke Ludwig’s “Labor Report: Four Major TV News Networks Ignore Unions” reports “During the years of 2008, 2009 and 2011, less than 0.3 percent of news stories aired on four major news broadcasting networks involved labor unions or labor issues, according to analysis recently released by Federico Subervi, a professor of media markets at Texas State University.”

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