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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Ed O’Keefe reports “Here’s how congressional Democrats plan to mark Trump’s first 100 days” at PowerPost, and notes “While negotiating this week with the White House on a plan to avoid a government shutdown and strongly opposed to any new plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are planning to lead a series of events designed to call out Trump’s work and words on the economy, trade, health-care reform and his vows to “drain the swamp” in Washington. The offensive begins Monday with a conference call hosted by Schumer, Pelosi and Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and will continue with other events hosted by lawmakers throughout the week…Democrats are planning for events on Capitol Hill headlined by rank-and-file lawmakers who will release scorecards designed to criticize the new administration’s work on the economy, trade, health care and ethics. Schumer and Pelosi will cap the week on Friday with another event designed to draw attention to the looming shutdown. Their offices will be circulating talking points and social media guidance to House and Senate offices each day — the kind of material likely to end up in floor speeches and members’ Twitter feeds.”

Politico’s Heather Caygle writes about the rising spirit of optimism among Democratic leaders and activists: “House Democrats are heading toward the 100th day of Donald Trump’s presidency with the kind of feel-good unity they haven’t experienced since the election. Coming off a rowdy recess where Republicans continued to be skewered by constituents on everything from health care to Russia to Trump’s tax returns, Democrats say walking through the political wilderness isn’t so bad — at least for now…It’s a stunning reversal from the despair dominating the caucus just a few months ago when Trump entered the White House and Republicans seemed poised to wreak havoc on Democratic priorities…Now, some members are even talking openly about the possibility of taking back the House in 2018. They would need to pick up two dozen seats, an uphill battle to say the least. But the chatter speaks to the optimism the caucus is feeling.”

Dominique Mosbergen’s HuffPo article, “Happy Earth Day! Here Are All The Terrible Things Donald Trump Has Done So Far,” provides a pretty comprehensive list of “some of the major ways President Trump has changed climate and environmental policy in his first 100 days.” Mosbergen quotes Rhea Suh, the president of the National Resources Defense Council, who called Trumps first three months “100 Days of Harm.”  Suh continues, Like any arbitrary benchmark, the 100-day point of a new president’s term normally tells us only so much about what’s to come. In the case of President Trump’s all-out assault on our environment and health, however, we’ve already seen more than enough…Trump has acted again and again to undo half a century of bipartisan progress in protecting our rights to clean water, air, and lands. He’s moved to part ways with longstanding American values of conservation in the public interest. And he’s betrayed the covenant we’ve forged with our children to leave them a livable world.” Mosbergen adds, “More than 60 percent of Americans said they disapproved of how Trump is handling the environment in an April Quinnipiac University poll. Fifty-two percent of respondents said they “are embarrassed to have Trump as president.”…Activists have said it’s not too late to stop Trump’s anti-climate and anti-environment agenda. While his executive orders have garnered a lot of hype, a majority of them have not yet had a substantive impact on actual policy.”

In her article, “The first brick hasn’t been set, and Trump’s border wall is already going south on him,” at The Fix, Amber Phillips explains why his Wall obsession is a disaster for Republicans. “Democrats have their own divisions to deal with. But opposing Trump’s wall is a near-perfect rallying cry nearly everyone in their party can get behind. It’s just too good of an opportunity to whack Trump and Republicans in Congress. If Congress funds Trump’s wall, Democrats can argue Trump has broken yet another campaign promise by building a wall without getting Mexico to pay for it.” Trump now says he eventually will force Mexico’s to pay for it, but his many vacillations on policies have tainted his credibilty. “They can also argue Republicans are raising the deficit and that they’re teetering on a shutdown when they control Washington because of this wall,” notes Phillips. “Fifty-four percent of Americans oppose building a wall along the entire Mexican border, according to CNN exit pollingfrom the 2016 election…A recent KVUE Austin poll found that in Texas (Trump country), 61 percent oppose his wall.”

Audrey Carlson and Jugal K. Patel present a quartet of Trump’s most important flip-flops in their post, “Trump’s Policy Reversals, in His Own Words,” at The New York Times. Many others could be cited, but these four flip-flops illustrate the utter unreliability of his policy pronouncements well enough. In just one example, on Sept. 5, 2013, he tweeted “Do NOT attack Syria, fix U.S.A.” On April 6, 2017, he goes on television and says “Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. … I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.”

Historian Bruce W. Dearstyne shares “Six Strategies To Revitalize the Democratic Party” at historynewsnetwork.org. Dearstyne focuses on the lessons of the 1950s, leading up to JFK’s victory in 1960, and noptes, “Democrats are still reeling from Hillary Clinton’s unexpected loss last November. Democratic leaders such as Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer are leading the opposition to President Trump’s proposals to overturn reforms such as the Affordable Healthcare Act. But history suggests that opposition to the president and vows of action to reconnect with alienated voters will not suffice. The Democrats will need new ideas, better alignment with the spirit of the times, and fresh new candidates to make a comeback and recapture the presidency.” Dearstyne flags JFK’s candidacy as offering a model for Democrats going forward: “Unlike the other Democratic contenders for the presidency that year, Kennedy had youth, charisma and he was vigorous and dashing. He drew on his party’s momentum – the ideas of the Finletter Group, Stevenson’s elevation of a sense of national purpose, the track record of Johnson and others in showing the party cared about popular issues, and a sense of freshness and progressivism. But his campaign themes – we need to do more, we need to get the country moving – took the party to a new level and gave it new energy. The themes resonated with the changing public mood, which was becoming more attentive to the need for dedication and sacrifice and for new ways of using American power in the world…Democrats can return to national power again. To accomplish that, they need to learn from their own history, particularly the long comeback in the 1950’s.”

“A new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll finds 57 percent of the public saying that the government should do more to solve problems and meet the needs of Americans, versus 39 percent who said the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals,” reports Carrie Dann at nbcnews.com. “That’s the highest share yearning for a more active government since the poll began asking voters about the role of government in 1995. And it’s a significant shift even since 2015, when 50 percent said that the government should do more while 46 percent complained that it was too active.” Dann notes a particularly bstrong shift among self-identified Independents: “In 2010, independents favored a less active government by 22 percentage points. This year? They favor a more active government by the same share.”

At The Plum Line, Greg Sargent shares some thoughts on the future of the Democratic Party, including: “Clinton rolled out a detailed political reform agenda, but it’s not clear whether she conveyed a gut sense that she really wanted to shake things up. As one Democrat sighed to me in August: I wish Clinton would show more discomfort with our political system and with how business is done in Washington…This possibility — that Clinton did not show a gut level of discomfort with our current arrangements — is worth mulling. Trump’s numbers were even worse than Clinton’s on honesty, and his promises to bust up the system were crude and laughably absurd — he actually argued that he was well qualified to reform our corrupt system because he had milked it himself from the inside to great effect. But it’s worth asking whether he somehow conveyed a visceral disdain for the way business is done in Washington that Clinton simply did not… The polling evidence is mixed on whether Clinton’s economic message even failed — exit polls showed she won among voters most concerned about the economy in many swing states. Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, and her extremely close losses in multiple states might not have happened if turnout had shaped up differently even on the margins.”

Although a lot of conservative commentators tried to spin Jon Ossoff’s 48.1 percent plurality in the GA-6 ‘jungle primary’ as a loss for Democrats, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jim Galloway argues that,”Yes, Georgia Democrats believe they can take the Sixth District. And Republicans should, too.” Galloway quotes Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz: “It would be different if [Ossoff] had 40 percent. Forty-eight? That’s putting him very close. The margin between him and Karen Handel is quite large. It’s 28 points.” Galloway emailed Charles Bullock, Abramowitz’ counterpart at the University of Georgia and noted that “one of Bullock’s many specialties is the study of runoffs in Georgia elections. He’s written one book on the topic, and his research continues…“The research in the book found that the larger the margin of the primary leader, the more likely the leader would win the second round,” Bullock wrote in reply. “Research I am currently doing, which includes Georgia elections through 2016, continues to find primary margin the most powerful predictor. “In 54 congressional runoffs since 1966, the primary leader won 79.6 percent.”

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