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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

After a week peppered with self-inflicted disasters for Double-Down Donald, this Washington Post headline may spell out the meme that does the most damage to his grip on blue-collar voters: “Trump could have avoided paying taxes for 18 years, report on tax records says” by WaPo’s David A. Fahrenthold, Rosalind S. Helderman and Jose A. DelReal. You can almost picture the kitchen-table ads in which one spouse asks the other, “How can we vote for a guy who brags about what a rich businessman he is, when he paid no taxes for at least 18 years?”

Stephen R. Weisman, author of “The Great Tax Wars,” has a reminder about how potent tax-dodging by a wealthy presidential candidate can be: “Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, learned this the hard way. During the campaign, he was caught complaining to donors and supporters that 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax…But in the same election cycle, it was revealed that the Romneys paid just under $2 million in income tax, an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent, lower than many Americans in the middle class. Obama’s re-election campaign exploited these facts, painting Romney as a person who attacked others for not paying taxes while exploiting the system. This image — of Romney as a cosseted and selfish plutocrat — stuck, and probably contributed to Romney’s defeat.” A Gallup poll conducted April 6-10, found that 61 percent of respondents believed that “upper-income people” paid “too little” in federal taxes. “…A Monmouth University poll last month for instance, 62% of those asked thought it was very important or somewhat important for candidates to show their tax record,” according to CNN Politics.

From David Corn’s Mother Jones post, “Watch Donald Trump Lecture Americans For Not Paying Taxes“: “On July 18, 2011, Trump appeared on Fox News and was asked about President Barack Obama’s comments that well-to-do Americans should make a sacrifice for the country by paying more in taxes. He replied: “Well, I don’t mind sacrificing for the country to be honest with you. But you know, you do have a problem because half of the people don’t pay any tax. And when he’s talking about that he’s talking about people that aren’t also working, that are not contributing to this society. And it’s a problem. But we have 50 percent. It just hit the 50 percent mark. Fifty percent of the people are paying no tax.” And later Trump said, “The problem we have right now—we have a society that sits back and says we don’t have to do anything. Eventually, the 50 percent cannot carry—and it’s unfair to them—but cannot carry the other 50 percent.” Corns got the videos, for those with a strong stomach.

Things are getting even more interesting in the largest swing state. Chris Weigant explains at HuffPo why Trump’s business forays into Cuba could cause him to lose Florida. “…Up until recently, Republicans’ strong anti-Communist and anti-Castro positions have won them the support of most Cuban-Americans in Florida (and elsewhere). Spending money in the Castro regime could blunt this support more than it already has been blunted by time. Younger Cuban-Americans just want to travel to Cuba to see relatives they’ve never met — they’re not as concerned about the Castro brothers. But if this new revelation weakens Trump support among the older [higher turnout] Cuban-American demographic, that could actually tip the state over to Clinton in November. So while this is a minor story for the rest of us, we’ll be closely watching the Florida polling to see if Trump getting caught spending money in Cuba has an effect…” And, as Marc Caputo notes at Politico, “If Trump loses Florida, he has almost no chance of getting to the White House.”

Ed Kilgore quotes David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, who notes “According to the Census, 40.2 million eligible whites weren’t registered to vote at all in 2012. That’s much larger than the 14.7 million whites who were registered who but didn’t turn out. Therefore, if Trump were truly inspiring an uprising of “missing” whites, we should expect a surge (or at least an uptick) in new registrations in blue-collar white and GOP-leaning places…” Kilgore adds, “Trump needs a field operation and voter-targeting analysis, all with the aim of getting his potential supporters registered right now. There’s no sign of that happening; such frills have been disdained by Team Garbage Fire, and the RNC has too much on its hands to make up for that lost opportunity.”

Rubio’s presidential campaign manager Terry Sullivan provides the most succinct description of Trump’s likely down-ballot effect: “He’s definitely hurting the party if for no other reason than these candidates keep getting asked about stupid Trump crap. At best, he is a distraction for these candidates — and at worst, he’s a huge drag on the ticket.” — from “Trump’s bad week is a ‘nightmare’ for the GOP” by WaPo’s  Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Sean Sullivan.

At HuffPo Walter Einenkel has an interesting post, “Texas food trucks move beyond tacos, now serving voter registrations and civic engagement” which offers a new way for Dems to engage a key constituency. As Einekel explains, “A few weeks ago the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, along with other voter registration groups, decided to use Donald Trump supporters’ bizarre racism against them by leveraging the concept that #aTacoTruckOnEveryCorner was a great thing. They began the Guac The Vote campaign. The idea was to get taco truck operators to add voter registration to their normally food-only service. The movement has been spreading. On Tuesday in Texas, Mi Familia Vota (MFV), in tandem with National Voter Registration Day, sent out eight taco trucks that could also serve as voter registration spots.” Dems cvould use some more such creative projects to engage their base voters.

Sam Frizell’s “How Hillary Clinton’s Allies Are Expanding the Vote Behind the Scenes” in Time Magazine provides some good news regarding early voting in battleground states: “In North Carolina, a key swing state, teams of lawyers are going county-by-county to add early voting days, pressuring supervisors of elections to include additional days and polling sites. In predominantly Democratic Wake County, home to the state capital of Raleigh, early voting hours have been expanded by 50%. In the blue counties that are home to Charlotte and Fayetteville, the Clinton campaign has bargained for similarly increased hours…In Florida, Miami-Dade, the biggest liberal base in the state, has expanded its early voting sites from around 20 in 2012 to 30 this year, due to the Clinton campaigns efforts. Broward, Orange and Hillsborough counties—home to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Tampa—have also expanded early voting hours. In the state where Al Gore lost to George W. Bush by a mere 500 votes, a day of extra voting at one polling place could swing the election if it ends up similarly close.” Frizell credits Washington, D.C. attorney Marc Elias for doing a heroic job of coordinating the effort.

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