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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Looks like the mass shooting in San Bernadino may spark yet another round of Islamophobia, egged on by right-wing media. The tragedy has also ignited a fierce debate among voters about the value of politicians’ “thoughts and prayers” vs. gun control again.
WaPo’s Sean Sullivan reports “How the 2016 presidential candidates are reacting to the California mass shooting.” Maybe it’s time for the media to make Republicans flesh out the “thoughts” part of their “thoughts and prayers” bromide a bit.
The FiveThirtyEight Gang, Nate Silver, Micah Cohen and Harry Enten have a conversation to test Silver’s view that Donald Trump probably ain’t gonna get the GOP nomination. Among Silver’s more persuasive points: “Polls don’t mean much at this stage and aren’t very predictive…A polling front-runner wins more often than not when the front-runner is at 50 percent in the polls, like Hillary Clinton is now. But Trump’s at 25-30 percent nationally and a bit less than that in Iowa…It’s not just that Trump has no support from his party. It’s that the party is actively looking to stop him because he’d be a catastrophe as their nominee.” I’m going way out on a limb here and say that any crazy thing can happen, especially with such a large field of flawed candidates.
NYT’s First Draft explains why “Senate Republicans Up for Re-Election Are Urged to Keep Distance From Donald Trump“: “”Let’s face facts. Trump says what’s on his mind and that’s a problem,” wrote Ward Baker, the executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “Our candidates will have to spend full time defending him or condemning him if that continues. And, that’s a place we never, ever want to be. It is certain that all GOP candidates will be tied in some way to our nominee, but we need not be tied to him so closely that we have to engage in permanent cleanup or distancing maneuvers.””
The Upshot’s Nate Cohn explains how the Trump campaign impacts the debate about the pros and cons of telephone vs. online polls.
NYT conservative columnist Russ Douthat concedes “Whether or not we want to call Trump a fascist outright, then, it seems fair to say that he’s closer to the “proto-fascist” zone on the political spectrum than either the average American conservative or his recent predecessors in right-wing populism…Trump may indeed be a little fascistic, but that sinister resemblance is just one part of his reality-television meets WWE-heel-turn campaign style. He isn’t actually building a fascist mass movement (he hasn’t won a primary yet!) or rallying a movement of far-right intellectuals (Ann Coulter notwithstanding). His suggestion that a Black Lives Matter protester at one of his rallies might have deserved to be roughed up was pretty ugly, but still several degrees of ugly away from the actual fascist move, which would require organizing a paramilitary force to take to the streets to brawl with the decadent supporters of our rotten legislative government.” Scant comfort, that.
The Fix’s Chris Cillizza sheds what was left of his already diaphanous nonpartisan veil to offer this advice directly to Bush III and Right to Rise, his Super-PAC: “Take all of the ad time Right to Rise has reserved in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and turn the firehose on full blast against Trump. I am talking about a sustained ad campaign whose sole aim is to disqualify Trump — not boost Bush. Sure, Bush and Right to Rise have jabbed at Trump — and a John Kasich super PAC has gone into full attack mode against The Donald — but no one other than the Bush forces have the money to maintain a sustained negative ad campaign against Trump in, at least, the first three voting states…Bush — and the broader establishment that he represents — needs to understand that these are desperate times for them. Standing on the sidelines is no longer a viable option. Waiting for someone else to do it won’t work. Someone needs to step up and try to take Trump out if, indeed, the establishment believes that The Donald as the party’s nominee is a catastrophic situation…No one is better positioned — or has less to lose — than Bush and Right to Rise. It’s time to take a chance.”
Washington Post op-ed columnist Harold Meyerson has some simpler advice for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to help build unity among Democratic progressives: “She should say that if elected president, she’d subject the Wall Streeters to a higher tax rate than anyone else.”
Crystal Ball’s Larry J. Sabato and Kyle Kondik provide some insight into calendar considerations for any independent candidacy bid by Donald Trump, or anyone else: “The calendar will help to determine whether there’s a truly prominent third-party candidate on the ballot. Filing deadlines for independent presidential candidates vary by state, but a majority fall in August. That is after the conventions — 38 states’ deadlines are after the RNC ends on July 21 — but not so far after them that a spurned candidate could easily turn around and get on many state ballots. A candidate who wants to get on every ballot will have to start much earlier than that: For instance, the deadline for an independent to get on the ballot in Texas, the second-biggest state, is May 9. So maybe it would be helpful to the Republicans if Trump hangs around in the primary — so long as he doesn’t win the nomination — just long enough for a national third-party bid to be out of reach.”

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