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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Sean McElwee’s salon.com post”Research shows Democrats are better for the economy — so why do voters trust Republicans more?” merits a thorough read from all Democrats concerned with crafting a stronger message that defines their party. From his conclusion: “Instead of bashing government and praising “job creators” Democrats must espouse a narrative that places the government and the safety net as a core component of economic growth. Such a narrative would emphasize the important ways that government creates the environment for growth, with infrastructure investment, science and technology research, education, childcare, healthcare and a safety net as a backdrop… As my colleague Tamara Draut argues, a better framework would be bottom-up: emphasizing that the working class is an engine for economic growth, and as long as they are left behind, our society struggles…An economic system that allows all Americans to flourish is the path to prosperity. But Democrats have to embrace the public sector, instead of austerity.”

If any Democratic ad-makers need a list of Trump’s self-damaging tweets and video clips, former MI Gov. Jennifer Granholm has just the thing in her HuffPo post, “37 Times Donald Trump Should Have Apologized.” Or you could go with Chris Kirk’s “183 Things Donald Trump Has Said and Done That Make Him Unfit to Be President” at slate.com.

Ryan Cooper illuminates “Hillary Clinton’s Southern strategy” at The Week: “…Turning out Democrats in record numbers could change the party’s fortunes in the South…Probably the key demographic to focus on is young voters…If Clinton is to take any of these states, young voters (and their more left-wing ideas) are where to start…Southern people need federal government help more than most. Most of the states that refused the Medicaid expansion in ObamaCare are in the South — where people are disproportionately poor and hence could qualify for coverage. Clinton winning these states could mean Democrats taking control of the state government, and giving health insurance to millions of people at a stroke — at virtually no cost to state governments either…And, of course, a disproportionate fraction of those poor Southerners are black. More than half of African-Americans live in the South — and more are moving there over time…Trump’s omnishambles campaign might just give them [Democrats] the opening they need to start rebuilding the party and contesting elections where liberal policy is most desperately needed.”

Re our recent “Political Strategy Notes – Trumps’ Hidden Tax Return Edition,” here’s MoveOn.org’s petition.

As incredible as is the story behind the Manafort meltdown, anyone who believes that replacing him with  a Breitbart wingnut, like Stephen K. Bannon is going to facilitate a “pivot to the center” is setting a new standard for gullibility. As TNR deputy editor Ryu Spaeth writes at The New Republic: “With his latest campaign shakeup, Trump is pivoting to a meaner, nastier Trump…The problem with Paul Manafort, it turns out, was not that he was a shill for allies of the Kremlin. It’s that he tried to turn Trump into a respectable-ish general election politician. Now that Manafort has received a de facto demotion, to be replaced by Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, we can expect to see Trump drop any pretense of cleaning up his act. Instead, he’s reportedly going to amplify the combative persona and ethno-nationalist message that won him the GOP primary.” Spaeth shares a tweet by WaPo national political reporter Robert Costa, who notes “Bannon has convinced Trump that rest of campaign needs to be bare-knuckles brawl, w/ full-bore populism/movement politics.”

In The New York Review of Books, Elizabeth Drew discusses Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy by David Daley, which takes a revealing look at the GOP’s political firewall, the REDMAP program. Drew explains how REDMAP has been so effective in taking over state legislatures and governorships in historical context and suggests a way for Democrats and progressives to undo the damage done by rabidly partisan redistricting: “What is to be done about partisan districting? Fortunately, a workable answer isn’t obscure or unachievable. The process has to be taken from the parties and turned over to nonpartisan commissions…What is required is a sufficient number of people who understand the issues at stake to bring pressure in their state to rectify its districting system…Embarrassment can be a potent political force and blatant denial of even the concept of representative government should be quite embarrassing…Citizen action of the kind that would push for redistricting commissions can be quite effective once the public is armed with the facts and determined to push for change…What’s needed now is the will in numerous states to force the powers that be to make this most fundamental and consequential reform of our political system.” Mobilizing such a coalition is harder than Drew suggests, but she is surely right that no one has come up with a better idea.

Republicans hold House seats in 28 congressional districts that Obama won in 2012 and Dems need a total net pick-up of 30 House seats this year to win back the critically-important Speaker’s gavel. At Daily Kos, Stephen Wolf explores ways to determine the percentage margin of victory Hillary Clinton would need to give Dems a good chance to flip majority control of the House back to Democrats, and comes up with a qualified estimate of 7-8 percent.

In her Cook Political Report update on the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina, Jennifer Duffy notes: “[Republican incumbert Richard] Burr goes into the final months of the race with nearly $7 million in the bank. By contrast, [Democratic candidate Deborah] Ross had just over $1.9 million on hand as of June 30. It is worth noting, though, that Ross outraised the incumbent in the second quarter, $2,101,017 to $1,575,224 for Burr…According to the current RealClearPolitics.com moving average (4/23 – 8/10), Burr has a one point advantage over Ross, 41.3 to 40.3. According to the HuffPollster moving average of all surveys taken in the race, Burr is ahead of Ross, 39.7 percent to 37.4 percent with Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh taking 4.6 percent…The most recent public poll actually showed Ross ahead of Burr by two points. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College survey (August 4-10 of 921 registered voters) had Ross leading Burr, 46 percent to 44 percent…Absentee voting starts in early September; 56 percent of voters are expected to cast their ballots early, leaving Burr with little time to make his case to voters. As such, the race moves to Toss Up.” Looks like reducing Burr’s financial edge could help Ross win. Her ActBlue contributions page is here.

The staff of Talking Points Memo offers “TPM’s Guide To GOPers Hopping Off The Trump Train.” It’s a growing list with three general categories: ‘Ready for Hillary,’ ‘The Holdouts’ and ‘The Arch-Weasels,” one of whom is Sen. Rand Paul, who has said he will support Trump, despite calling him “a delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag.”

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