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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

A.P.’s Erica Werner reports that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is considering “a major role in Democratic primaries in key congressional races nationally, which could produce weakened nominees who would be more easily defeated by Republicans, according to an internal memo obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.” Werner says the Chamber is targeting Democratic primaries for 4 senate races (IL, OH, FL and PA) and 5 house races for possible involvement.
According to the International Institute for Democracy, “if you define voter turnout as the ratio of voters compared to the entire population of citizens eligible to vote, then for presidential elections, the U.S. lately ranks 75th (with 53.58 percent of eligible voters turning out) if you focus only on the 113 countries with presidential elections.”
E. J. Dionne, Jr. succinctly defines the current assault on voting rights: “Mr. Obama’s election called forth a far more sophisticated approach to restricting voting. Republicans closely examined how Mr. Obama’s political organization had turned out large numbers of young African-Americans who had not voted before. Their participation was facilitated by early voting, and particularly Sunday voting…So legislatures in many states where Republicans had full political control went to work to make it harder for African-Americans, Latinos and young people to vote. Of course, that is not what they said they were doing.”
Columnist Doyle McManus terms Hillary Clinton’s strategy “soft populism”…not the insurrectionist socialism of Bernie Sanders but still progressive enough to keep most Democratic primary voters on her side.”
At The Plum Line Paul Waldman probes “The simple-minded populism that controls the GOP,” and notes, “Democratic populism says that the problem is largely about power: who has it, who doesn’t, and on whose behalf it’s wielded…Republican populism, on the other hand, is aimed against “elites” that are decidedly not economic. It’s the egghead professors, the Hollywood liberals, the government bureaucrats whom they tell their voters to resent and despise. ”
Jonathan Chait distills the Rubio pitch and then shreds it in his New York Magazine column “Marco Rubio: Let Me Be Your Front Man, Republicans.” Chait explains: “Republicans who favor tax cuts for the rich, cuts in social benefits for working-class Americans, and deregulation of Wall Street…What these donors want is a candidate who will continue to advocate the fiscal and regulatory policies they crave…Rubio is all but explicitly making the case for himself as the front man to make that sale.”
Former Sen. Kay Hagan has decided not to run for the U.S Senate seat now occupied by NC Republican Richard Burr, who many observers of NC politics believe to be one of the more vulnerable senators up from re-election in 2016. There are some less well-known potential challengers, with the usual concerns about fund-raising in a shrinking window of time. More here.
Lee Drutman has some interesting observations at Vox Polyarchy about “What Donald Trump Gets About the Electorate.” Citing a study showing that “the dominant left-right/liberal-conservative divide in American politics doesn’t fit a large number of voters,” Drutman says “While most elite-funded and elite-supported Republicans want to increase immigration and decrease Social Security, a significant number of voters (across both parties) want precisely the opposite — to increase Social Security and decrease immigration. So when Trump speaks out both against immigration and against fellow Republicans who want to cut Social Security, he’s speaking out for a lot people….By my count of National Election Studies (NES) data, 24 percent of the US population holds this position (increase Social Security, decrease immigration). If we add in the folks who want to maintain (not cut) Social Security and decrease immigration, we are now at 40 percent of the total electorate, which I’ll call “populist.”
Somebody has a serious message discipline problem.

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