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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In “Can Donald Trump Win? These Battleground Regions Will Decide,” Jonathan Martin, Alexander Burns, Trip Gabriel and Fernando Santos focus on “the four regions likely to decide the presidency — Florida, the upper Southeast, the Rust Belt and the interior West.”
Ramesh Ponnuru of Bloomberg explains how “Clinton can crush Trump with one message” and notes, “Her most powerful message against Trump might be a non-ideological one: His lack of knowledge, seriousness and impulse control make him too dangerous to put in the presidency…That strategy would have room for many specific criticisms of him that fit within the overall message of his unfitness. Instead of presenting his $11 trillion tax cut as a typical right-wing scheme, for example, she could tie it together with his speculation about defaulting on the debt and suggest that he is far more reckless than normal conservatives. (His encouragement of other countries to get nuclear weapons also illustrates this point.) And she would have to outsource some potential attacks to others. Calling Trump a “fascist,” for example, would make her rather than him look wild-eyed.”
At Politico David S. Bernstein explores an unlikely scenario, “How Hillary Loses: Donald Trump can actually win if Clinton makes these four mistakes. Spoiler alert: She’s already making all of them.” In his summation graph, Bernstein says “…Trump survives a Latino surge in the South and West; Clinton fails to bring home young voters in the Southeast and Midwest; Libertarians give Trump a foothold in the Northeast; the Rust Belt puts the nail in the coffin–and with somewhere between 274 and 325 electoral votes…” Lots of stretchwork there, and Bernstein does acknowledge that “it’s also possible Clinton wins in a landslide.”
“Pennsylvania and Michigan have voted Democratic in every election since 1988. (Ohio is a swing state, of course, so that’s a bit more realistic.) Central to Trump’s argument is that he’ll increase turnout and support from working-class white voters, enough to counteract votes from heavily Democratic (and less-white) parts of each state…On Thursday, Bloomberg Politics released a poll that cast some doubt on that happening. Pollster Purple Strategies surveyed voters in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan who earn between $30,000 and $75,000 a year — what they call “middle income.” Their choice for president? Hillary Clinton, by 7 points…..the numbers in the Bloomberg survey are not what Trump needs — by a wide margin — if he’s to sweep the Rust Belt or even pick off a couple of states.” – from Philip Bump’s “A new poll has bad news for Donald Trump in the Midwest” at The Fix.
And Dan Balz chucks in a sobering reminder at Washington post Politics that “The methodology of all types of polls is under challenge. There is a serious and urgent debate underway among public opinion researchers about the way forward…For the rest of us, the exchanges lead to common points of agreement, all of which might seem obvious but should not be forgotten. Don’t put too much emphasis on any single poll. Look closely at averages of groups of polls to determine whether there are real shifts in the race. And don’t expect polls to predict the future.”
But this kind of poll ought to be instructive: “Only eight percent of Americans say they have a great deal of confidence in the Republican Party, and 15 percent – in the Democratic Party. Similarly, just 29 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of Republicans have any confidence in their own political parties,” notes a new poll by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Despite the edge Dems have here, when 70 percent of Democratic respondents in a poll say they lack confidence in their party, not doing anything to boost the party’s image, instead of just promoting candidates, indicates negligent leadership. Where, for example, are the ads showing Democratic accomplishments?
Yet another example of frustrating and hard to understand Democratic weakness in a state that ought to be trending purple: “Democrats hold a small minority in the Missouri House with 45 members, and in 66 of the chamber’s 163 districts no Democrats have filed to run. Republicans, with 117 members, have a supermajority and could maintain it with wins in at least 43 contested races. It needs to win only 16 to maintain a majority.” Pathetic.
Kate Stringer reports a little good news from Washington state: “Washington CAN, along with the Washington Environmental Council, recently completed an experiment on how door-to-door canvassing affected voter turnout in south Seattle, which has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the county–as well as some of the highest diversity…The precincts they canvassed are more than 50 percent people of color. The group found that 82 percent of registered voters who consistently voted over the last three years in these neighborhoods identify as White. The experiment, named Operation Spectra, moved chronic nonvoters–or people who hadn’t voted in the eight most recent major elections–to vote in the November 2015 election 13.7 percent higher than other diverse precincts Washington CAN used as a control group…Melissa Michelson, a political science professor at Menlo College, has conducted dozens of studies on canvassing and is co-author of the book Mobilizing Inclusion: Transforming the Electorate through Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns. Her past experiments failed to sway chronic nonvoters. “If [this trend] repeats, then it’s a huge change to what political scientists know about mobilizing nonvoters,” Michelson says.”
Tobias Konitzer, a Ph.D. candidate in communication at Stanford University and David Rothschild is an economist at Microsoft Research present some intertesting (and wonky) findings at The Monkey Cage in their post, “New polls show that more Americans prefer Democrats’ policies.” As the authors conclude, “The general population is much more aligned with Democratic rather than Republican positions. For five issues, the Democratic position is much more popular than either the neutral or the Republican position. Those include increased taxes on high earners, legalizing abortion in cases of rape and incest, having anti-discrimination laws for sexual orientation, federally mandating that businesses offer maternity leave and increased gun control measures…For two issues, the Democratic position and the neutral position are equally popular: whether the government should try to reduce income inequality and whether global warming exists…American voters are decidedly neutral on two issues associated with Republicans: reducing Medicare costs by giving vouchers to subscribers and curtailing government regulations…But they agree with the Republicans on two issues: reducing immigration and considering military options to deal with Iran.”

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