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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At the Princeton Election Consortium, Sam Wang cautions that, while “Republicans are finally in the lead in election polls…as a profession, pollsters have a small tendency to underestimate Democratic performance, by an average of 1.5%.” Further, he believes that “Kentucky is basically lost to Democrats,” and it would be better to invest resources in winning Senate races in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, and Louisiana and “maybe Georgia and North Carolina.” All in all, however, “Considering the margins of error in polling, things could still go either way.”
John Dickerson argues at CBS News that Democratic candidates are better off not talking much about “Obama’s unpopular foreign policy” and they appear to have embraced a strategy of changing the subject to domestic policy when it comes up. Dickerson notes that polls indicate that voters trust Republicans more on national security concerns. This last meme is somewhat problematic, since most Republican leaders not named Rand Paul seem to favor a more interventionist stance, and the polls rarely probe the popularity of such views in depth. Obama’s “bombs yes, boots no” approach may have a better public opinion shelf life, compared to the alternatives.
WaPo’s Ed O’Keefe discusses those annoying email pitches for Democratic donations you are receiving in droves — and why they seem to be working. The word “begging” appeared in five subject lines in my e-box yesterday.
Alex Altman of Time Politics discusses the increasing importance of ‘gotcha’ oppo research in 2014 campaigns: “…On the left, the dominant player is American Bridge 21st Century, a super PAC founded in 2010 by the liberal activist David Brock. In the 2014 cycle, American Bridge has an $18 million budget, which pays for 44 trackers in 41 states, plus more than 20 researchers in the group’s Washington office. It has caught [Illinois Republican candidate for Governor Bruce] Rauner on video opposing the minimum wage, captured Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter extolling the billionaire Koch brothers, and documented Michigan Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land arguing that women are “more interested in flexibility in a job than pay.”
At Politico Bill Scher updates the dicey “why it might be good for Democrats if they lose the midterms” argument.
Richard L. Hasen’s Slate.com post “The Voting Wars Heat Up” previews the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court battle over repressive voting laws. Hasen spotlights four major cases before the court and ads, “If the Supreme Court gives the green light to all the voting cutbacks, and especially if it does so reading the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act narrowly, then expect to see even more Republican legislatures pass voting cutbacks in time for the 2016 elections…The longer-term prospects for court protection of voting rights appear bleak. We cannot expect the Supreme Court to read voting rights protections broadly, and we cannot expect a polarized Congress to pass any new voting rights protections to make up for the loss of preclearance. Instead, the battle over voting rights will have to be fought state by state, through political action and agitation.”
Crystal Ball’s Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley report that “One popular dataset that analysts keep an eye on is early and absentee voting numbers, particularly in states with competitive races. At this point, seven states have entered their early voting periods, and 33 states and the District of Columbia will have early balloting this cycle, while 27 states and DC have no-excuse absentee voting as an option. And in many states with party registration, we can see the number of requests and total votes cast by each party’s registrants (though not for whom they voted). For example, Nate Cohn of the New York Times recently read the early ballot tea leaves in Iowa, which has a very competitive Senate race on its hands. His general conclusion: Both Democrats and Republicans are much more engaged in a state that hasn’t had a Senate contest decided by less than 10 points since 1996, and absentee requests are up over 2010 for both parties and among independents. In North Carolina, Catawba College Prof. Michael Bitzer says that absentee ballot requests and returns are looking better for Democrats than they did in 2010.”
Women are still lagging badly behind men in their share of elective offices nationwide. But 2014 may be the year that women roar at the polls in a different way. In “Why Women Are Democrats’ Last Best Hope to Salvage the Senate” at The National Journal, Scott Bland notes, “…a National Journal analysis of public polls, and interviews with strategists from both parties, suggests that the gap has ballooned to historic proportions across 2014’s battleground states…”I think the gender gaps are growing compared to past election cycles,” said Matt Canter, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s deputy executive director. “We’ll see how that turns out, but that’s certainly what the public and internal polling shows, in every race across the board.”
All of the buzz about the importance of women voters in this election cycle notwithstanding, GOP ads targeting them are still clueless.

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