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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

NYT columnist Paul Krugman has a message suggestion for President Obama’s Tuesday SOTU: “There’s an enduring myth among the punditocracy that populism doesn’t sell, that Americans don’t care about the gap between the rich and everyone else. It’s not true. Yes, we’re a nation that admires rather than resents success, but most people are nonetheless disturbed by the extreme disparities of our Second Gilded Age. A new Pew poll finds an overwhelming majority of Americans — and 45 percent of Republicans! — supporting government action to reduce inequality, with a smaller but still substantial majority favoring taxing the rich to aid the poor…of the two great problems facing the U.S. economy, inequality is the one on which Mr. Obama is most likely to connect with voters.
Yawn, as many do, at state of the union addresses. But Mike Dorning reports at Bloomberg.net that “Though the 33.5 million viewers Obama drew last year is half the number Bill Clinton had 20 years earlier, the address remains a major TV event, topping both the Emmy Awards and World Series in viewership.” And team Obama is putting a lot of digital muscle into leveraging the speech: “The speech, usually about an hour long, “is the biggest engagement of the year” for the White House’s digital media operation, said its acting director, Nathaniel Lubin…The campaign includes Google Hangouts and Facebook (FB) chats by cabinet members and senior administration officials, a flood of advance Twitter messages under the hashtag #InsideSOTU, and an “enhanced” web live stream of the speech with graphics and data amplifying Obama’s themes. As part of the build-up, speechwriter Cody Keenan did a one-day “takeover” of the White House’s Instagram Account featuring photos of preparations.”
For their part, NYT’s Jeremy W. Peters explains that the Republican response to Tuesday’s SOTU will be largely balkanized, with the official response from the relatively unknown Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers being drowned out by bomb-throwers like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, who will be capering all over social media.
At CBSnews.com, Walt Cronkite’s “Schumer offers Democrats a strategy to defeat tea party” explains: “…in framing the debate with the tea party, Democrats should focus on four or five simple and easily explainable examples where government can help the average family. Schumer’s examples included: raising the minimum wage, assisting with college affordability, investment in national infrastructure, promoting equal pay for women, and ensuring America has fair trading relationships and isn’t exploited by countries like China.”
Although only 17 states and Washington, D.C. now approve same-sex marriage, that’s nine more than just a year ago. Further, regarding key bellwether states, WaPo’s Juliet Eilperin reports, “A decade after 62 percent of Ohio voters approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, a recent Quinnipiac poll showed a narrow majority now backs gay-marriage rights…The changing political dynamics were on full display this week as Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) announced he would not defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. Herring won a close election with strong support from gay-rights groups, and his decision infuriated conservatives, who accused him of violating his oath to uphold state laws.”
Re Michelle Nunn’s chances for picking up a U.S. Senate seat in GA for Dems: “Her campaign will test whether the rapidly changing demographics of Georgia — where state elections data show that the white vote dropped to 61 percent of the total in 2012 from 75 percent in 2000 — have shifted enough to return a Democrat to Washington. And it will reveal how much legacy still matters in politics. from Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s NYT article “Old Democratic Name (Nunn) Stakes Bid on Shifting Georgia.” Further adds Stolberg, “Two of his closest Republican friends, former Senators John W. Warner of Virginia and Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, are now donors to Ms. Nunn. Mr. Warner attended the breakfast, he said, and walked away impressed. So did Mr. Nunn; watching his daughter tackle military policy questions changed his view of her race…”That morning,” he said, “was when I said to myself, ‘Hey, she’s got as good a shot as anybody in this race, maybe better.’ “…If Ms. Nunn has a path to victory, Democratic strategists say, it will be by increasing minority turnout while attracting independent-minded whites, especially young voters and women. Democrats hope that a potentially fractious Republican primary, with eight candidates, will produce a far-right opponent whom Ms. Nunn could defeat.
Melanie Trottman of the WSJ reports a small gain for unions in the private sector during 2013.
At ThinkProgress Aviva Shen’s “Conservative PAC Targets Secretary Of States Who Won’t Back Voter Suppression Laws” alerts Dems to a new GOP focus: “A new conservative super PAC hopes to proliferate more voter suppression laws by pouring money into secretary of state races. The group, SOS for SoS, is looking to spend $10 million in nine states in support of candidates who will champion “smart voting,” such as restrictive voter ID laws, voter purges, and proof of citizenship requirements. Secretaries of state set elections procedures and can determine mundane but crucial aspects like voting hours, provisional ballot rules, and recounts…The announcement, per Politico, comes days after a judge overturned Pennsylvania’s hotly contested voter ID law because it could disenfranchise 750,000 voters. A Democratic counterpart, SoS for Democracy, launched in December to promote secretary of state candidates who are against voter suppression measures. Currently, 29 secretaries of state are Republican, while 21 are Democrat…A recent study found that states with higher minority turnout are more likely to try to pass voter suppression laws.”
At The Monkey Cage Alan I. Abramowitz crunches recent opinion data on reproductive rights explains why “Americans may be divided on abortion, but it won’t matter for the midterms”: “abortion could have been a major wedge issue in 2012 — potentially prompting defections among those whose views differed from those of their party’s candidates. But despite efforts by candidates in both parties to exploit divisions among the opposing party’s supporters, such defections were limited. Only a small minority of voters whose opinions on abortion conflicted with their own party actually voted for the opposing party’s presidential candidate. Moreover, these defections essentially canceled each other out. According to the data from the 2012 ANES, 17 percent of strongly pro-life Democrats voted for Mitt Romney, and an identical 17 percent of strongly pro-choice Republicans voted for Barack Obama. Neither presidential candidate gained a clear advantage from voter defections on the issue of abortion in 2012…This is likely to be true in the 2014 midterm elections, as well…” Moreover, adds Abramowitz, exceptions tend to favor Democrats: “In 2012, two Republican Senate candidates, Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, lost what appeared to be very winnable races because of defections by Republican voters. According to state exit polls, Republican defectors outnumbered Democratic defectors by 21 percent to 4 percent in Missouri and by 20 percent to 7 percent in Indiana. It seems likely that Akin’s and Mourdoch’s outspoken opposition to abortion even in the case of pregnancies caused by rape contributed to these extraordinarily high defection rates among Republican voters and to their defeats.”

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