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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Harry Enten’s FiveThirtyEight.com post “Midterm Election Turnout Isn’t So Different From Presidential Year Turnout” crunches the numbers and favors the case for investing more in persuasion. “…if the two voting pools somehow magically switched places, 2012′s demographics wouldn’t have swung control of the House in the 2010 election. I transposed the 2012 demographics onto the 2010 vote tallies and Republicans still won the national vote by about 3.3 percentage points in the midterms.”
But Tom Bonier notes at The New Republic, “The bottom line is, Enten’s theory doesn’t hold up under the scrutiny of individual vote history. For example, Enten looks at the variation in turnout among younger voters between 2010 and 2012, and then considers the partisan vote share of that demographic in order to assign some sense of partisan impact of these turnout changes. But what he’s missing is an understanding of which younger voters cast a ballot in each year. By using vote history and partisan models, we can gain a better sense of this dynamic. For example, in Ohio in 2012, the average modeled partisanship of registered voters under the age of 30 who cast a ballot was 57.3%. The same statistic for that group for 2010 voters was 50.5%. So while the overall share of the electorate that younger voters comprised in each election could be largely unchanged, that would mask the sub-demographic dynamic that is truly impactful, from a partisan vote perspective.”
Patrick Ruffini’s “to Persuade, Or Not to Persuade”, on the other hand, provides an invaluable discussion of the relative importance of persuasion vs. turnout, with particular reference to midterm elections. Among his interesting observations: Calling for “balance and for sophisticated execution on all fronts,” Ruffini adds, “Right now, the budgetary balance in elections is tilted in one direction – towards paid persuasion. An approach that diversifies risk by investing more evenly in all both persuasion and turnout must be tested against more one-dimensional approaches.”
Meanwhile, Carl Hulse’s New York Times article “Democrats Seek Issues to Lure Midterm Votes After Races Buoy G.O.P.” reports at that “…House Democrats are reassessing their electoral strategy based on a major internal research project that shows their candidates stand a better chance when they portray Republicans as uncaring toward working-class Americans while they continue to back policies favoring the wealthy and corporate America…Democrats could build on this distrust, the research showed, by emphasizing support for policies such as equal pay for men and women, ensuring that corporations pay a fair share of taxes, and increased job opportunities in the United States…The research also found that an effort to increase the minimum wage — a recent top priority of congressional Democrats and the White House — is not by itself enough to motivate swing voters to go to the polls and back Democrats in the fall…”It concerns voters but doesn’t necessarily motivate them to vote in the midterms,” said Representative Steve Israel of New York, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.”
Greg Sargent’s Plum Line post “The next big freakout over red state Democrats” probes the political ramifications of environmental protection regulations re carbon emissions, energy development and power plants.
Jean Bonner of Georgia PBS addresses “Which way will young voters go in Georgia?” Dems hope that their younger marquee candidates Jason Carter (Governor) and Michelle Nunn (U.S. Senate) will attract a larger than usual turnout of younger voters, helped by ad optics showing their young families.
Alan I. Abramowitz’s warns at Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball that “Nationalization of Senate Elections Poses Challenge to Democrats in 2014.” Abramowitz explains: “Between 2000 and 2012, almost 90% of seat switches in Senate elections were in a consistent partisan direction. Moreover, in the four federal elections between 2006 and 2012, this trend has become even stronger. Nearly all of the seat switches in this quartet of elections — 23 of 24, or 96% — have been in a consistent partisan direction. In 2006 and 2008, there were a total of 14 party-seat switches, and all of them involved Republican seats switching to Democratic control. In contrast, all six switches in 2010 involved Democratic seats switching to Republican control. Finally, in 2012, three of the four switches involved Republican seats switching to Democratic control.”
Elections are never a done deal until the last ballot has been counted, but Democratic nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf’s huge lead (52-33 in the latex Quinippiac poll) over Republican Governor Corbett in the polls is great news for Dems.
Please, former Democratic politicians holding on to “leftover” campaign funds, do the right thing and donate to local democratic campaign committees.

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