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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

‘To walk, or to walk back’ Trump support seems to be the question of the day for Republican Senators and House members conflcited about Trump’s mess and what it does to their ‘base.’ In his NYT report, “Some in G.O.P. Who Deserted Donald Trump Over Lewd Tape Are Returning,” Jonathan Martin elaborates: “While Mr. Trump had already lashed out at Mr. Ryan on Twitter and in a Fox News interview, his decision to use his own campaign event to hurl attacks at the speaker caused a new wave of fear among Republicans that their now “unshackled” candidate, as he described himself earlier in the week, might use his rallies to similarly attack local Republican lawmakers who have refused to support his candidacy. (They also had to deal with new revelations about Mr. Trump’s behavior, like a report that he had walked into a Miss Teen USA dressing room as contestants were changing, and another report that two women had accused him of groping them.).”

For an update on specific GOP politicians, The Times is also offering “More Than 160 Republican Leaders Don’t Support Donald Trump. Here’s When They Reached Their Breaking Point.”

At The Daily Beast Michael Tomasky clarifies the tally in percentage terms, which clearly indicate that the GOP is still Trump’s party, despite his declarations to the contrary: “Monday, McCain joined what in panting media shorthand is usually called something like the “long and fast-growing list” of Republicans who’ve withdrawn their support from Trump. Looked at one way, the list is indeed long. It includes about 15 GOP senators. But another way of saying it is that the list does not include nearly 40 of them. It includes around 25 GOP House members, which means it does not include about 215. It includes a half-dozen governors, but does not include more than 25. Adding it all up, among senators, House members, and governors, a hefty 85 percent still officially back this man who is obviously unqualified and hasn’t a small-d democratic cell in his body”

From Nate Cohn’s “The Savvy Person’s Guide to Reading the Latest Polls” at The Upshot: “Until a candidate approaches 50 percent, it’s hard to know whether the lead is because of party unity or because the candidate has won over the key voters needed for victory. This is especially true in a reliably red or blue state: A Democrat who has 40 percent of the vote in Arizona still has a lot to prove, even with a lead. He or she hasn’t yet won the Republican-leaning voters who decide the state’s elections…Usually, anything at 46 percent or above is a good indicator of real strength. Less than that, and you have to wonder about undecided voters.”

WaPo’s Kelsey Snell and Karoun Demirjian explain why “House Democrats believe Trump troubles give them real shot at retaking majority.” As they note, “Democrats think that Republicans are now stuck in the impossible position of either embracing their party’s presidential nominee and alienating swing voters critical to maintaining their hold on Congress or rejecting him and angering their base…While a generic ballot tests shows a Democrat up by 7 points over any Republican lawmaker, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s poll — conducted nationwide by the Global Strategy Group — shows the Democratic candidate has a 12-point edge if the Republican recently withdrew their support from Trump. If a Republican lawmaker continues to support Trump, the private polling shows they are at a similar 12-point deficit.”

Jim Galloway reports at The Atlanta Constitution-Journal that Margaret Hoover, Republican founder of a Super PAC dedicated to putting gay rights on the conservative agenda and great grand-daughter of President Hoover, articulates a point of view shared by a growing community of worried GOPers: “I really hope that Donald Trump loses spectacularly. For my version of the Republican party to be ascendant, I need a definitive loss,” said Hoover at a Georgia State University panel on the presidential race. “I need for that idea of what the Republican party is to really be disproved as viable, politically. If it’s very, very close you’ll embolden hold-outs who say, ‘Let’s wait four more years and do this again.’”

Social pressure matters a lot in increasing voter turnout, reports Simon Greenhill at The Daily Californian: “A study by UC Berkeley economics and business administration professors, in collaboration with professors from the University of Chicago and Harvard quantifies how much social pressure influences would-be voters…The researchers found that people’s concern about being asked whether they voted in the 2010 congressional election increased turnout by two percentage points and argue that doubling how often people are asked if they voted could increase turnout by two percentage points more…Previous studies have found that mailed get-out-the-vote campaigns increase voter turnout by an average of just 0.2 percentage points…“Two percentage points will open the margin where an election is decided,” said Stefano DellaVigna, the study’s lead author. “If the campaigns encourage people to ask others more, this could have a really sizable impact on turnout.””

Campaigns can administer social pressure, but facebook may be the most efficient instrument for administering peer-group pressure to go to the polls and vote on election day. It is certainly growing in influence as a news source, reports  Kanyakrit Vongkayitkajorn at Mother Jones. “About 60 percent of Americans now get news through social media, according to the Pew Research Center, up from nearly 50 percent in 2012. Facebook is the most widely used platform, and it also leads the pack in terms of getting news to its users: two-thirds of Facebook users said they sought news on the site, Pew found.” Facebook has its limits as a vehicle for influencing swing voters, since “friends” share political perspectives more often than not. But that very weakness is a source of srength, when it comes to guilt-tripping friends who are pondering whether to vote at all. Jennifer Moire noted at Adweek, “A study in Nature released last month reveals that a single Facebook message increased turnout by 340,000 votes in the 2010 midterms.” For more on this topic, read “3 Ways to Harness Facebook for GOTV” by Brian Ross Adama, digital consultant to Democratic campaigns and advocacy groups at Campaigns & Elections.

Lest Democrats drift into an unseemly October gloat, David Leonhardt has a sobering reminder of glaring weaknesses that must be addressed to prevent 2018 reversing gains won in 2016: “For one thing, Democrats haven’t yet hit on a successful strategy for turning out voters in midterm elections. That hurts them in congressional and governor races, as well as in state legislatures, which in turn allows Republicans to control the gerrymandering process…Democrats have also failed to build a strong bench of candidates. This year, Democrats did not even field a candidate in some districts. In others, the Democratic candidate seems too weak to create a competitive race. The Republican group that oversees its House campaigns recently chortled about the Democrats’ “embarrassing recruiting failures and primary losses for their chosen candidates.”

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