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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

The pundit consensus regarding the final Republican presidential candidate debate before the NH primary is that poll front-runners Trump and Cruz did OK, despite the booing of The Donald, which had the unsavory whiff of a GOP establishment set-up. As Ed Kilgore noted, “Trump’s joke about the audience being heavily composed of Bush’s famously numerous donors rang pretty true.” Perhaps the Trump team’s shoddy advance work made it possible for the Bush campaign to dominate the audience. Still, adds Kilgore, Trump “did well in no small part by failing to be the center of attention,” and it’s likely that the debate didn’t entirely eradicate Trump’s formidable lead in the late NH polls.
NYT’s Alan Rappeport has a round-up of quick takes on the GOP candidate debate, including this nugget from Jessica Mackler, president of Democratic Super PAC American Bridge: “The Rubiobot got stuck on repeat, offering nothing but canned talking points, and still had no answer when challenged on his lack of accomplishments and failure to show up for work. He needed a big night tonight, but a system glitch had him short-circuiting.” You can find scathing reviews of Rubio’s performance pretty much everywhere. “Once Impervious, Marco Rubio Is Diminished by a Caustic Chris Christie,” read the Sunday Times above-the-fold headline. At Rubio’s expense, Christie showed he has the chops to go for the adversary’s jugular, if not the adequate likability needed to be an effective running mate.
The Democratic debate, on the other hand, was more substantial than the GOP’s demolition derby. From Michael Tomasky’s Daily Beast Post on the final Democratic debate in NH “Finally, a Debate That Voters Deserve“: “That was one of the best debates I’ve ever watched. The questions were (mostly) good and tough and not stupid, and Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow did a really good job of steering it without getting in the way. Both candidates were good. Very good. There were a few tough moments, a few tender moments. It was real. I don’t know if it changed the dynamic in New Hampshire, but it did suggest one possible path for Hillary Clinton to narrow Bernie Sanders’s huge lead so that we might see some drama next Tuesday after all.”
Despite some heated exchanges in the Democratic debate, The Guardian’s Richard Wolfe commended both candidates on their civility: “Bernie’s best moment – once again – was his mensch-like refusal to attack Clinton on the email saga. In fact, he stated publicly that he rejects repeated media requests to do just that…The moderators tried to lure Clinton into a similar attack on Sanders, about the number of apparent ethical questions surrounding Sanders staffers. She politely declines the opportunity to jump in, before the debate breaks for yet another ad break…After a debate in which both candidates have taken their gloves off, this was easily their most dignified moment.”
At PoliticusUSA RMuse shares a sobering thought on health care reform: “It is worth reminding Americans that if private insurance companies were not part of “Obamacare,” like they are part of Medicare and Medicaid, there would be no healthcare reform whatsoever. In fact, what seems lost on the “EmoProg” movement is that even with private insurance company involvement in “Obamacare,” Medicare, and Medicaid, Republicans have spent the past nearly six years doing everything in their considerable power to get rid of not only Obamacare, but Medicare as well. One is just baffled beyond comprehension why anyone in America would think for a second that any Republican will ever support raising trillions in taxes to fund a “Medicare for all” system; arguably a government socialized system when they want any healthcare system eviscerated.”
At The Washington Post Mike Debonis reports that “Flint water crisis emerges as a key piece of Democrats’ election-year message.” Dems should also project the crisis as ‘exhibit A’ evidence for the urgent need for infrastructure upgrades in stark contrast to the Republicans policy of infrastructure neglect and abandonment.
NYT columnist Charles M. Blow probes the Clinton campaign’s inadequate traction with younger voters and observes “Clinton is running an I-Have-Half-A-Dream campaign. That simply doesn’t inspire young people brimming with the biggest of dreams. Clinton’s message says: Aim lower, think smaller, move slower. It says, I have more modest ambitions, but they are more realistic.”
Sen. Sanders open embrace of ‘democratic socialism’ may resonate positively with younger voters, though it is likely more of a liability with older voters. Catherine Rampell notes in her Washington Post column that “respondents younger than 30 were the only group that rated socialism more favorably than capitalism (43 percent vs. 32 percent, respectively)” in a recent Yougov poll conducted January 25-27, while a Gallup poll conducted June 2-7 last year found that “34 percent of respondents age 65 and older said they would be willing to vote for a socialist, compared with about twice that level among respondents younger than 30.”
Every candidate should try to get a healthy share of young voters. But the significant lag in youth voter turnout even in presidential elections revealed in this chart from the U.S. Elections Project, may help explain why some candidates are more focused on older voters:
CPS age.png

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