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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“Hillary Clinton didn’t just win the popular vote. She won it by a substantial margin…By the time all the ballots are counted, she seems likely to be ahead by more than 2 million votes and more than 1.5 percentage points, according to my Times colleague Nate Cohn. She will have won by a wider percentage margin than not only Al Gore in 2000 but also Richard Nixon in 1968 and John F. Kennedy in 1960.” — from David Leonhardt’s New York Times op-ed, “Clinton’s Substantial Popular-Vote Win.”

“Trump called Electoral College a ‘disaster’ in 2012 tweet,” reports William Cummings at USA Today.

As for Electoral College reform and the difficulties posed by GOP domination of state legislatures, Ed Kilgore notes, “As it happens, there is a way around the constitutional-amendment process and its small-state veto power: the National Popular Vote initiative. It is an interstate compact whereby states agree to cast their electoral votes for the popular-vote winner. It becomes effective once states controlling 270 electoral votes agree to it. So it basically nullifies the Electoral College without abolishing it…At present, 11 jurisdictions (ten states plus the District of Columbia) representing 61 percent of the electoral votes needed to make it effective have signed onto the agreement. Earlier momentum has been stalled by the current dominance of state governments by Republicans, who (rightfully, it would seem) perceive themselves as benefiting from the status quo. It’s a good reason, in addition to such obvious considerations as redistricting and the considerable power of state governments, that Democrats might want to place a real premium on making large gains at the state level in 2018.”

At Alternet Jeremy Sherman takes a look at “How Trump Won—and How Candidates Will Win From Now On: The election was not decided on issues, values, character, scandal or national direction, but on confidence.” Sherman argues “Trump postured as the infinitely confident candidate. Though most of us thought he would lose, he campaigned throughout as though he were infallible…He acted as though he believed in his own supreme power to interpret reality correctly and to do whatever it takes to bring reality to heel under his command…Confidence is what all advertisers sell” He may be on to something here. Raw, relentless confidence may be worth a couple of  points with the GOP’s low-information voters, Ted Cruz and other conservatives have referenced.

In his November 11 NYT op-ed, “Where the Democrats Go From Here,” Bernie Sanders argues “I believe strongly that the party must break loose from its corporate establishment ties and, once again, become a grass-roots party of working people, the elderly and the poor. We must open the doors of the party to welcome in the idealism and energy of young people and all Americans who are fighting for economic, social, racial and environmental justice. We must have the courage to take on the greed and power of Wall Street, the drug companies, the insurance companies and the fossil fuel industry.” Great points, all,  and I think most Democrats believe that. But our messaging and image usually gets smothered by Republican repetition of the Big Lie — that Democrats are more elitist than them. We’ve got to figure out how to overcome their messaging edge.

Frank Bruni’s NYT column, “The Democrats Screwed Up” makes a persuasive argument that Democrats have failed to provide younger, more dynamic leaders needed to win elections, relying instead on old-timers who provoke more yawns than excitement. Bruni doesn’t deal with possible solutions, like investing more in candidate recruitment and training. Some Democratic organizations and progressive institutions like the Center fo the American Woman in Poltiics, NALEO and Emily’s List have modest leadership development programs. But the scale and funding should cerainly be expanded across the board.

Maybe a little more precision is needed than this retread. How about “It’s the infrastructure, stupid” for a 2018 midterms mobilizing theme? Trump has made some vague infrastructure program noises, and Dems might gain some leverage calling out Republican senators and house members who block it.

Abby Phillip, John Wagner and Anne Gearan explain why “A series of strategic mistakes likely sealed Clinton’s fate” at Washingron Post Politics,” and note in a revealing paragraph: “Some Democrats inside and outside of the campaign say that there is little Clinton could have done to stop the slide even if she had spent more time campaigning in Wisconsin and Michigan. The forces­ that caused her loss in the upper Midwest were also at work in places­ where her campaign sent her far more often and invested huge amounts of money, including Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.”

Worst ‘trial balloon’ ever.

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