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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“The problem for the Democratic Party is not that its policies aren’t progressive or populist enough,” writes Fareed Zakaria in a Washington Post op-ed. “They are already progressive and are substantially more populist than the Republican Party’s on almost every dimension. And yet, over the past decade, Republicans have swept through statehouses, governors’ mansions, Congress and now the White House. Democrats need to understand not just the Trump victory but that broader wave…Hillary Clinton’s campaign, for instance, should have been centered around one simple theme: that she grew up in a town outside Chicago and lived in Arkansas for two decades. The subliminal message to working-class whites would have been “I know you. I am you.” It was the theme of her husband’s speech introducing her at the Democratic convention, and Bill Clinton’s success has a lot to do with the fact that, brilliant as he is, he can always remind those voters that he knows them. Once reassured, they are then open to his policy ideas.”

In his salon.com post, “Want to win the working-class vote? Try progressive economic policies, Democrats,” Sean McElwee notes “Clinton’s campaign erred by not running more ads criticizing Trump’s predatory behavior toward workers and touting the Obama administration’s auto-industry bailout. (Research suggests that in battleground states only 6 percent of Clinton’s campaign ads mentioned “jobs,” while 43 percent of Trump’s did.)…At this point, the key limitation to progressive economic policies isn’t message but mobilization. There are numerous opportunities to run progressive candidates in races and states that Democrats have ignored. As the data suggest, economic progressivism is popular. Now let’s get the people who benefit from it mobilized. Let’s get candidates who can run on those platforms and win…”

Podcaster Lincoln Mitchell’s “Six Things Democrats Can Do Now To Combat Trumpism” has some provocative talking points, including these three: Spend time in working class white communities; Don’t talk about public service and sacrifice (“Every time a Democratic politician uses this language-and Hillary Clinton did a lot-it is a reminder of the elitism of the Party, and the candidate.”); and Don’t be afraid to tweet.

At The New Yorker Jeffrey Toobin pinpoints “THE REAL VOTING SCANDAL OF 2016: Jill Stein can’t call for the recount of uncast votes, but there were clearly thousands of them as a result of voter-suppression measures.” Noting that recounts “almost never result in a change of more than five hundred votes,” Toobin writes,  “This was the first Presidential election since the Supreme Court’s notorious Shelby County v. Holder decision, which gutted the Voting Rights Act. Several Republican-controlled states took the Court’s decision as an invitation to rewrite their election laws, purportedly to address the (nonexistent) problem of voter fraud but in fact to limit the opportunities for Democrats and minorities (overlapping groups, of course) to cast their ballots…In 2014, according to a Wisconsin federal court, three hundred thousand registered voters in that state lacked the forms of identification that Republican legislators deemed necessary to cast their ballots…In Milwaukee County, which has a large African-American population, sixty thousand fewer votes were cast in 2016 than in 2012. To put it another way, Clinton received forty-three thousand fewer votes in that county than Barack Obama did—a number that is nearly double Trump’s margin of victory in all of Wisconsin. The North Carolina Republican Party actually sent out a press release boasting about how its efforts drove down African-American turnout in this election.”

Donald Trump hasn’t released his tax returns — but Democrats want to force his Cabinet picks to do so,” reports Ed O’Keefe at The Washington Post. “Currently, just three Senate committees — the Budget, Finance, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs panels — have the authority to require Cabinet picks to release their tax returns. The others do not…Democrats see an opportunity to call attention to Trump’s refusal to release tax information despite public opinion polls showing that most Americans believe he should.” The move would also underscore the reality of heavy Wall St. influence in Trump’s cabinet picks.

In the latest installment of the Blame Game, Aaron Blake’s post, “Yes, you can blame millennials for Hillary Clinton’s loss” at The Fix should have had a subhead “Along with most other groups.” Blake is dead right that younger voters ditched Clinton in significantly disproportionate and damaging numbers. But they had plenty of company. As John Judis noted in a November 11th Post op-ed, however, “According to national exit polls, among Latino voters she fell six points from President Obama’s numbers in 2012; she dropped five points each among 18-to-29-year-olds, unmarried women and African Americans. Together, these groups made up the same percentage of the electorate in 2016 as they had in 2012. Some of the battleground-state figures are even more striking. In Ohio, Clinton was 13 points behind Obama among 18-to-29-year-olds. In New Mexico, she fell 11 points among Latinos.”

At CNN Politics Eugene Scott probes the damage done by Hillary Clinton’s “Deplorables” gaffe, and notes, “On a special assignment from the Clinton campaign, Diane Hessan studied how undecided voters were responding to the campaign…She wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe sharing reflections from her study, which showed the reaction to the “deplorables” was stronger than when FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress saying they were probing to see if additional emails on the laptop of one her top aides could have an impact on a closed investigation to Clinton’s use of a primary email server.” I believe it. There’s no data to back it up, but google “deplorables t-shirt,” then click on the “images” tab,  and you will get about 200 designs to chose from.

You’ve probably heard about the daunting political landscape Democrats will be facing in the 2018 mid term elections, when Dems will be defending 25 seats, compared to 8 for Republicans. But shouldn’t Dems expect some pick-ups in the House, where all incumbents are running and Republicans will have the presidency? Not exactly, writes Charlie Cook at The Cook Political Report: “In the House there seems to be very little volat­il­ity in 2018. Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port House Ed­it­or Dav­id Wasser­man es­tim­ates that there are about ten Re­pub­lic­ans sit­ting in dis­tricts car­ried by Hil­lary Clin­ton and just eight Demo­crats in dis­tricts won by Don­ald Trump. The party hold­ing the White House usu­ally loses House seats in midterm elec­tions, but that might not hap­pen this time. First, the House of­ten ex­per­i­ences a surge and de­cline phe­nomen­on in which a party picks up a bunch of seats with its White House vic­tory only to lose many of those seats in the next mid-term elec­tion. But this year Re­pub­lic­ans won the Pres­id­ency while los­ing House seats, so they aren’t go­ing in­to the midterm with a lot of new seats to de­fend. Second, Demo­crats de­pend on young­er and minor­ity voters, who are most likely to sit out midterm elec­tion years.”

“It was the party’s neoliberalism that did it in,” writes Jeff Faux at The American Prospect. “…Organized labor, for all its flaws, kept the white working class in the Democratic Party, and was a firewall against white racism. This was especially true for industrial unions…as industrial unions declined, the right wing punched through that firewall, firing up anger towards elites, whose definition of diversity and equality did not seem to include white “losers…The Democrats’ task ahead, therefore, is to return to their own roots as the party of the new working class, whose anxieties about the future are spilling over the walls that separate people of different colors, genders, sexual preferences—and even educations.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Jack Olson on

    “I know you. I am you. I get paid a quarter of a million dollars for each speech I give to Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America, just like you.”


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