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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Ariel Edwards-Levy reports on polling data regarding the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court at HuffPo, and finds: “Americans say by a 17-percentage-point margin, 40 percent to 23 percent, that Gorsuch, the federal appeals judge nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia, should be confirmed. An additional 37 percent aren’t sure. (A poll taken after Gorsuch’s nomination was first announced in February found that Americans favored confirmation by a similar 15-point margin, 43 percent to 28 percent, with 29 percent undecided.)…Voters who supported Trump are overwhelmingly aligned in favor of Gorsuch: 87 percent think the Senate should confirm him, and just 3 percent say that it shouldn’t. In contrast, while most Clinton voters oppose the nomination, they do so less strongly. Fifty-four percent don’t want the Senate to vote to confirm Gorsuch, but 17 percent say that it should, and 29 percent say that they aren’t sure…While health care tops the list of Americans’ biggest concerns, recent polling suggests, the Supreme Court currently lags near the bottom ― and while Hillary Clinton voters in the presidential election rallied strongly against the health care bill, which Trump voters supported only tepidly, the intensity gap seems to be reversed when it comes to Gorsuch’s confirmation…Less than half of the public reports following the confirmation hearings even somewhat closely, with just 14 percent saying they’ve followed the proceedings very closely.” It looks like public disinterest in Supreme Court nominations is all out of proportion to the importance of who will be the next swing vote on the high  court. Arguments about the slippery Gorsuch appear to be mostly framed in terms of his anti-worker, pro-corporate views, along with his unsavory eagerness to personally benefit from the GOP’s outrageous refusal to grant Merrick Garland a fair hearing. Call it at least tacit collaboration with grossly-partisan suppression of open debate – a cornerstone principle of democracy. The question is how to make this concern more of an issue of public concern.

Mounting evidence that Judge Neil Gorsuch would be another rubber stamp favoring employers against worker rights on the Supreme Court raises increasing concerns among union leaders. “The current eight members of the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously disagreed last week with the measly educational standard Gorsuch set. In the case of Endrew F. vs Douglas County, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that a school district has a duty under the law to provide such children with “an educational program that is reasonably calculated to enable [them] to make progress” and that the program “must be appropriately ambitious.”…To Gorsuch, Alphonse Maddin is not a man, but a “trucker.” In Gorsuch’s world, an autistic child is not a human deserving an education. In his mind, a college professor relinquishes personhood when she falls ill. Gorsuch’s perverse propensity to discount humanity makes him unfit for the court. A soulless man cannot serve justice.” –from “Gorsuch on Labor: A Soulless Man Cannot Serve” by  Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, at OurFuture.org.

In addition to Gorsuch’s bias against worker rights, Robyn Thomas and Adam Skaggs explore the reasons why the “Gun Lobby May Have Their Man in Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court nominee” at Newsweek, while Melanie Campbell’s “Neil Gorsuch’s Frightening Record on Protecting Women’s Rights” at NBC  News has a good summary of what women stand to lose if Gorsuch is confirmed and Arn Pearson eplains why “Gorsuch Would Move the Supreme Court in the Wrong Direction on Money in Politics.”

At The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Darla Cameron and Kevin Schaul report “29 Democrats oppose Gorsuch’s nomination and say they will block it from getting to a full vote. They need to successfully block him with a filibuster.” Senators who are still undecided about using the filbuster to block Gorsuch include: Michael F. Bennet (Co); Richard Blumenthal (Conn.); Sherrod Brown (Ohio); Maria Cantwell (Wash.); Benjamin L. Cardin (Md.); Christopher A. Coons (Del.); Catherine Cortez Masto (NV); Joe Donnelly (Ind.); Tammy Duckworth (Ill.); Dianne Feinstein (Ca); Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.); Angus King* (Maine); PatrickbJ. Leahy (Vt.); Claire McCaskill (Mo.); Robert Menendez (N.J.); Brian Schatz (Hawaii); Jon Tester (Mont.); and Mark R. Warner (Va).

From The Atlantic, this approach merits more experimentation among Democratic ad-makers, as well as Facebook-users, who are more interested in changing attitudes than preaching to the choir:

At New York Magazine Ed Kilgore has “9 Big Questions About GOP Tax Reform” including, “(2) How about Democrats? Will they be consulted? As with health-care legislation, tax-reform legislation will be pursued through special budget procedures so that it can be enacted by simple majorities in both houses without the possibility of a Senate filibuster. That means congressional Democrats will be pure bystanders unless something big goes wrong, at which point the whole exercise may be scaled back if not abandoned. The flip side of that situation is that Democrats will be free to take pot shots at the legislation as simply representing a bonanza for the rich and powerful and an implicit betrayal of the working-class people who voted for Trump.”

There’s an important message for Democrats and progressives in the agreement to repeal North Carolina’s odious bathroom law. It is that boycotts can decisively strengthen campaigns for political change. Marc Tracy reports at the New York Times that “An Associated Press study released this week found that over a dozen years House Bill 2 could cost North Carolina nearly $4 billion because of canceled events.” In this case, progressive organizers skillfully leveraged N.C.’s basketball obsession, ‘March madness’ and business community concern to compell a Republican-dominated state legislature to reverse itself.

Alex Byers reports at Politico on another issue that may spell disaster for Republicans: “Congressional Republicans drew blood this week by voting to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s Obama-era broadband privacy rules. The GOP’s next target is likely to be the Obama administration’s top technology legacy: net neutrality rules that essentially require internet providers to treat all Web traffic equally, a policy championed by Silicon Valley.,,Even in a Capitol often dominated by fights over defense or health care, the GOP’s technology offensive has handed a potential political weapon to Democrats and consumer groups, who are eager to use it. Democrats followed Tuesday’s privacy vote by launching broadsides against GOP Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada, supporters of the privacy repeal who face reelection in 2018 — denouncing the GOP work as “creepy” and “indefensible.”…“Voters across party lines understand the importance of personal privacy and are not going to be happy as they find out that Republican senators and Senate candidates used a party-line vote to put data including health and financial information for sale to the highest bidder,” said Ben Ray, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee…”We think the Open Internet Order has been good for the public, good for consumers, and we think it’s tremendously popular with people, too,” said Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.). “While they have the power and authority to do it, I just think they’re going to pay a heavy price if they keep moving in the direction they’re moving.”

Early voting is already underway in the much-monitored special election for Georgia’s 6th congressional district, where Democrat Jon Ossoff leads in polls to replace former Rep. Tom Price, Trump’s Secretary for Health and Human Services. Nate Cohn has an update at The Upshot, explaining “Why Democrats Have a Shot in a Georgia District Dominated by Republicans,” and notes, “So far, 55 percent of early voters in the special election — either in-person or absentee — have most recently participated in a Democratic primary, while just 31 percent have most recently participated in a Republican primary. For comparison, just 23 percent of voters in the district in the 2016 general election had most recently participated in a Democratic primary, compared with 46 percent in a Republican primary…The huge Republican field probably helps the early Democratic turnout edge: Republican voters are less likely to know at this stage whom they’re going to vote for. But the Democrats also enjoy a similar 45-to-21-point edge among the larger group of voters who have requested but not yet returned absentee ballots…These sorts of lopsided turnout advantages aren’t sustainable in a high-turnout presidential election or even a midterm. But in a low turnout election like this, it doesn’t take much to generate a meaningful turnout edge.”

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