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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

David Nather observes in his post on “The Obamacare Enthusiasm Gap” at Politico that “…the task for Democrats is to figure out how to close the enthusiasm gap — and convince their voters that Obamacare should be a voting issue for them, too…The reality is, it’s probably going to be a negative message rather than a positive one. Most Democrats believe they can motivate voters by shifting the conversation to the GOP repeal efforts — warning voters about all the things they’d lose if the law went away…The formula that party strategists had recommended until now — telling candidates to stress that they’ll fix what’s wrong with the law — is not going to work. Instead, they’re saying vulnerable Democrats need to declare that millions of people have coverage now, remind everyone how bad the old system was, and accuse Republicans of wanting to return to it…Liberal Democrats say the “no apologies” strategy is one lesson of the Florida special election this month, in which a weak Republican candidate, David Jolly, won with appeals to anti-Obamacare voters while Democrat Alex Sink lost with the standard “fix what’s bad, keep the good” formula.
At HuffPo Robert Kuttner offers “some thoughts about how to turn Obamacare from lead weight into a political lifeboat for this November.” Kuttner advocates “nationalizing” the mid rem elections: “If Republicans want to make a promise to repeal or de-fund the ACA the centerpiece of this November’s campaign, let’s have that fight and educate Americans on just what repeal would mean. The ACA might even turn into a political winner — or at least not the big loser that it now looks to be…Economists have a nice concept known as “endowment effects.” In plain English, that means people hate to give up what they have. The Republicans have turned that psychology against President Obama, because the ACA requires some really lousy insurance policies to be swapped for better ones that are occasionally more costly…But by November, Obama could turn the psychology of endowment effects back against the Republicans. Do Americans really want to give up their right to get insurance despite being sick?”
And at the L.A. Times Noam M. Levey reports that “At least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gotten health insurance since Obamacare started” and “Fewer than a million people who had health plans in 2013 are now uninsured because their plans were canceled for not meeting new standards set by the law, the Rand survey indicates.”
If this is in the ballpark, Democratic cheeseheads need some GOTV encouragement, pronto.
From Andrew Kohut’s Wall St. Journal article “The Demographics Behind the Democrats’ 2014 Troubles,” here’s one reason why Democrats should consider campaigning hard against the Republican Party as a whole, instead of just individual candidates, this year: “In Pew’s December survey, 59% rated the GOP unfavorably, while just 35% held a favorable opinion of the party. The Democratic Party’s ratings were not great either, but markedly better–47% favorable versus 48% unfavorable…Democrats have maintained a wide image advantage over Republicans since 2011 when the GOP first threatened to shut down the government over the debt ceiling. The public seems to see Republicans as more likely to take extreme positions and less willing to compromise. Moreover, unfavorable opinions of the tea party have nearly doubled to 49% in 2013 from 25% in 2010, according to Pew’s polling.”
At CNN Politics John King discusses “Inside Politics: Seeds of an Obama political recovery?” King notes that “..Democrats hope to improve their midterm political standing with a push on economic issues with appeal to Democratic base constituency groups — from raising the minimum wage to immigration reform…Broadly, the Democratic push is designed to show, in their view, the Republican obsession with Obamacare has blocked action on a meaningful economic agenda. More narrowly, each of the Democratic priority items is aimed at appealing to a critical midterm constituency, with special emphasis on women, African-Americans and Latinos.”
This should be turned into a nation-wide ad campaign.
Cokie and Steve Roberts also argue “Don’t count out Dems this November,” noting “The Democrats’ best hope for recovery is this: Two large voting blocs, young people and women, actually agree with them on many key issues. The question is whether the party can get past the “bad taste” of Obamacare, and the president’s pallid popularity, and focus attention on those issues…polling numbers on Obamacare are slowly turning around…Democrats retain a huge edge in the technology of politics and the ability to contact — and galvanize — potential supporters…Democrats also retain a large advantage among Hispanic and Asian voters, and Republicans are allowing hard-core conservatives in the House to block immigration reform — a self-defeating position that undercuts GOP attempts to court those groups.”
Ballot measures yes. Usage on election day…maybe not.

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