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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At The Plum Line Paul Waldman explains why electoral college politics renders untenable the argument that presidential candidates should actively campaign in all 50 states. “…as long as we have an Electoral College and 48 of the 50 states assign their electors on a winner-take-all basis, there is absolutely no reason for candidates to campaign in states where they have no chance of winning. So they don’t. They also don’t campaign in states where they have no chance of losing…Let’s not forget that Barack Obama’s “far narrower path” to the White House was paved with the votes of a majority of the American electorate. Twice.”
Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman expand on the topic at The New York Times: “Aides acknowledged that Mrs. Clinton’s map would closely resemble Mr. Obama’s, with roughly the same eight or so key states as in the last two presidential elections, and with the possibility of competing in historically Republican states like Arizona where the demographics increasingly favor Democrats…If she won, it would suggest that the so-called Obama coalition of young, nonwhite and female voters is transferable to another Democrat. And it would validate the idea that energizing core supporters is more important in presidential contests than persuading those still undecided.” The authors quote Democratic strategist James Carville: “”Now the highest-premium voter is somebody with a high probability to vote for you and low probability to turn out. That’s the golden list. And that’s a humongous change in basic strategic doctrine.”
Early though it is in the 2016 campaign, National Journal’s formidable Charlie Cook ventures, “I predict that the only way this race isn’t going to be within 3 or 4 points is if one side nominates an awful candidate; the essential dynamics are setting it up to be at least as close at the 2012 contest.”
Nate Silver explains why “Polling Is Getting Harder, But It’s A Vital Check On Power.” Among Silver’s observations: “While horse-race polls represent a small fraction of all surveys, they provide for relatively rare “natural experiments” by allowing survey research techniques to be tested against objective real-world outcomes…Without accurate polling, government may end up losing its most powerful tool to know what the people who elect it really think.”
Jeff Greenfield posts at The Daily Beast on the reasons why an effective third party challenge is unlikely for 2016.
In his surgical gutting of Rand Paul’s “sweeping hyperbole” and “rhetorical recklessness,” former Bush speechwriter/columnist Michael Gerson has a well-stated — and revealing — warning for those who want to prematurely write off any GOP candidate’s nomination chances: “Pretty much any candidate in the Republican pack is one killer debate performance, one strong poll result, one especially good fundraising report away from a narrative of resurgence.”
At the Washington Post John Wagner has a retrospective of Martin O’Malley’s first foray into presidential politics — as a young campaign worker for Gary Hart. Wagner reports that many of Hart’s young activist alums are now working for O’Malley.
Brendan Nyhan notes at The Upshot: “Political scientists have found that debates happen after most campaigns have been decided. (The party conventions — which the news media often find boring but help remind people of their partisan affiliations and renew attention to politics among inattentive voters — are a more important civic event and one with greater consequences for the presidential race.)”
Other critics have noted the continuing descent into Republican stoogery of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” But Driftglass has a particularly brutal takedown.

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