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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In his Washington Post column on the Trump campaign leadership re-do, E. J. Dionne, Jr. observes, “There is much good news but one piece of bad news for Clinton in the Trump shake-up. The bad news is that she is likely to have to play more defense, especially if Bannon builds on his success in enticing reporters at non-conservative media outlets to work on stories damaging to her…The good news is that Trump seems determined to fight through the campaign on his own terms. This reduces the chances that he will drop out of the presidential race, which, in turn, means that Clinton is more likely to avoid what would be the biggest blow to her chances: a Trump withdrawal and the naming of a new GOP candidate.”

Sam Wang writes in his post “What would it take for the House to flip?” at the Princeton Election Consortium: “…I used the generic Congressional preference poll and national Presidential polls to estimate that if the election were held today, House Democratic candidates would win the popular vote by 5-8%…. Judging from the last few cycles, that level of public opinion appears to be right on the edge of being enough to give Democrats control of the House…Kyle Kondik takes a more extreme view, and estimates that Democrats need a +10% win. If true, that would be a serious deviation from 1946-2012 trends. There is a research finding from the 1990s asserting that the effects of gerrymandering can fade after a few cycles…”

At FiveThirtyEight,com Seth Masket explains “How A Trump Debacle Could Affect The House And State Legislatures.” Masket looks at historical data, crunches the numbers and observes “There’s a pretty clear relationship — for each additional percent of the vote a presidential candidate receives, his or her party will gain several House seats and about two dozen state legislative seats, according to my analysis. But there’s quite a bit of leniency in that relationship. While having an unpopular candidate at the top of the ticket is certainly a challenge, it’s not necessarily a death sentence. Candidates can sometimes successfully distance themselves from their presidential candidate.”

Presidential Debates Will Almost Definitely Exclude Third Parties,” writes Alice Ollstein at ThinkProgress, because none of them are getting close enoiugh to the 15 percent average in five major polls that is required to be in the debates.

At The New Republic Kevin Baker makes the case for Democrats returning to a form of “machine politics” — using some of the organizing structures that empowered strong Democratic state and local parties in the past, while avoiding the corruption that often came with it.

“Trump plans to devote himself primarily to five crucial states — Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania — where he hopes that raucous rallies and a relentless presence on television will electrify his working-class base and thousands of other people who have grown disengaged and frustrated with the political class,” report Robert Costa, Jose A. DelReal and Jenna Johnson at The Washington Post.

Also at TNR David Dayen writes about Zephyr Teachout’s challenge to debate her opponent’s PAC funders (which I noted in Monday’s Strategy Notes) and comments: “Attack ads usually stream across local television screens without any context. By calling out the funders directly, Teachout has tainted those forthcoming ads by associating them with corruption. And that’s a lesson other Democrats might want to heed.”

From Dara Lind’s “Democrats have a secret plan to win red states without moving to the center” at Vox: “…What if Democrats stopped thinking about winning as many of the available, likely voters as possible, and started thinking about changing the pool of who was a likely voter? What if they focused less on persuasion and more on voter mobilization?…If Democrats stop pivoting to the center and spending money on ads, and start focusing on getting their natural allies to the polls, they can win more durable victories; America, after all, is only getting more diverse…Instead of spending money on ads…spend it on turnout. [Democratic strategist Steve] Phillips estimates that for the amount of money spent on attack ads in the 2014 North Carolina Senate race, for example, Democrats could have paid for “400 full-time staff members to go door to door in communities of color for an entire year, talking to and mobilizing the voters who had turned out for [Democratic Sen. Kay] Hagan when she won in 2008.”

Roll Call columnist Jonathan Allen explains why “We’re Underestimating the Donald Trump Debacle,” noting that “Trump’s failure to put together even a bush league campaign organization has Republican insiders rightly worried about the long-term implications of the impending November debacle. He’s refused to do the presidential-year work that parties rely on to build their donor, volunteer and voter lists for future elections at the local, state and national levels…“Presidential races are where you can invest in data infrastructure, organizing talent, technology, etc. He is not doing that. She is,” Jeremy Bird, the national field director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign said on Sidewire…Democratic and Republican strategists say he could do truly lasting damage to the size and strength of the party and its ability to find and mobilize like-minded voters.”


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