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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Jonathan Martin’s “After Losses, Liberal and Centrist Democrats Square Off on Strategy” at the New York Times summarizes the central debate emerging within the Democratic party and offers an interesting observation: “Progressives pointed to three Democrats who ran as populists as models for success: Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Senator-elect Gary Peters of Michigan…Mr. Merkley, who focused on the loss of well-paying jobs, the cost of college tuition and opposition to trade deals that he said sent jobs overseas, won by 19 percentage points. While Democrats nationally lost whites without a college degree by 30 percentage points, Mr. Merkley narrowly carried that bloc.”
At Slate.com Jamelle Bouie explains “Why Democrats Can’t Win Over White Working-Class Voters.” Bouie observes, “The white working class is a huge subset of Americans. “Close to half of white men and 35-40 percent of white women in the labor force are still essentially ‘working class,’ ” finds liberal commentator Andrew Levison in his book The White Working Class Today. “Their occupations are basically blue collar rather than white collar and their earnings fall far below their white collar counterparts.” And in that category are groups of reachable voters: Union members and low-skilled young workers in particular. Democrats don’t have to win this group as much as they have to avoid a rout. If they can do that–and hold Republicans to a majority rather than a supermajority–then they can avoid the Republican waves of the recent midterm elections, and strengthen their presidential majority.”
Kevin Drum weighs in on the topic with “Can We Talk? Here’s Why the White Working Class Hates Democrats” at Mother Jones.
In similar vein, William Greider posts at The Nation on “How the Democratic Party Lost Its Soul: The Trouble Started When the party Abandoned Its Working-Class Base.” Greider arguers, “What we need is a rump formation of dissenters who will break free of the Democratic Party’s confines and set a new agenda that will build the good society rather than feed bloated wealth, disloyal corporations and absurd foreign wars. This is the politics the country needs: purposeful insurrection inside and outside party bounds, and a willingness to disrupt the regular order. And we need it now, to inject reality into the postelection spin war within the party.”
At Politico DLC Founder Al From explains the Dems midterm disaster “We were trying to sell a product the American people did not want to buy. On the economy, for example, Democrats offered fairness; most Americans wanted the opportunity to get ahead.” From suggests “The cornerstones of our retooled message must be economic growth and government reform.
The Upshot’s Nate Cohn argues that, contrary to pundit consensus on the midterms, “The evidence for a fairly successful Democratic turnout effort is straightforward. ”
At The Monitor’s DC Decoder Joshua Huder notes, “Democrats’ attempts to localize their races and distance themselves from the president also put distance between them and a solid national economy. During the campaigns, we heard very little about steady growth, lower unemployment, or the other factors that could have played well for Democrats. It’s entirely possible many did not believe these trends were good enough to campaign on. It’s also likely that many states in which these races took place still had struggling economies, which, according to a new paper by Stephen Ansolabehere, Marc Meredith, and Erik Snowberg in the journal Economics & Politics (November 2014), can affect perceptions of the national economy.”
Also at Politico, Tarini Parti reports on the debate about how Democrats can better leverage their financial resources in the next election.
Mark Miller’s “Five Takeaways on Retirement from the Midterm Elections” shows why seniors who voted for Republicans in the midterm elections may soon have a bad case of buyer’s remorse.

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