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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At The Washington Post, Kristine Phillips reports that “Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has promised to provide up to $15 million in funding that he says the United Nations will lose because of President Trump’s decision to pull out from the landmark Paris climate deal. The billionaire’s charitable organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies, on Thursday pledged to shoulder the United States’ share in the operating costs of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the organization’s climate negotiating body in charge of helping developing countries fulfill environmental requirements under the 2015 pact…Previously a longtime Democrat, Bloomberg switched to the Republican Party to run for New York mayor in 2001. He switched again in 2007 and became an independent.” Prospective Democratic presidential candidates might do well to expect a Bloomberg run in 2020, and his choice of party affiliation could make a pivotal difference.

Professors Nicholas Carnes and Noam Lupu argue at The Monkey Cage that “It’s time to bust the myth: Most Trump voters were not working class,” noting that some political writers overstated Trump’s working class support during the primaries, and offer data showing that “Trump supporters were mostly affluent Republicans” and “Trump seemed to have about as many people without college degrees in his camp as we would expect any successful Republican candidate to have.” Lupu and Carnes concede that “During the general election, 69 percent of Trump voters in the election study didn’t have college degrees,” but “white non-Hispanic voters without college degrees making below the median household income made up only 25 percent of Trump voters. That’s a far cry from the working-class-fueled victory many journalists have imagined.” The authors are surely right that working-class status can’t be precisely measured by either income, occupation or education as separate factors, and most writers for the better publications use these stats as a rough indicator, not the indicator. Expelling all white workers with household incomes above the median income from the working-class also seems a bit rigid. If a mechanic who works a lot of overtime, while his spouse waits tables in a restaurant together earn household income equal to 115 percent of the median, are they no longer working-class? By any measure, the white working-class is still one of the largest voter demographics and Trump’s Electoral College victory got a big boost from white working-class votes in battleground states. Yet, Democrats should be able to win a larger share of this constituency. Even a small improvement could make a significant difference.

Meanwhile, in the post, “Most Discussions On “The White Working Class” Are Based On An Awful Caricature: Part I, Demographics,” Smallch offers these observations at Daily Kos: “First off, we need to note that the white working class is not predominantly a small town or Red State phenomena. In fact, the truth is almost the complete opposite. As the Washington Post noted after the election, about 70 million people in the “white working class” live in or around large and medium sized cities, against only about 20 million who live in small towns and rural areas*. Like pretty much any group, the white working class is predominantly suburban….the common picture of the white working class voters as being uniquely motivated by racism is somewhat true, but nowhere near enough to support the idea that the group is uniquely, or monolithically racist. About a 39% of white people with no college degrees say being white is a very important part of their identity, compared with 29% of people with college degrees. If we use that as a proxy for general racial sentiment, that means someone in the white working class is about a third more likely to be racist, which is significant but hardly overwhelming. And, truth be told, I suspect most of that difference comes down to regional distribution, i.e. the south and much of the southwest are disproportionately working class.”

In a round-up at The Hill, Amy Parnes writes that some “Dems want Hillary Clinton to leave spotlight,” and quotes a number of observers to support the contention. Parnes cites “string of remarks explaining her stunning loss in November coupled with the public remarks blaming the Democratic National Committee for the defeat — which many took as also critical of Obama — are hurting the party and making the 2016 candidate look bitter.” But the arguments that Clinton should pipe down and fade away suffer from the fact that she, ahem, won the popular vote, and has earned the right to speak her mind, particularly on policy. Nor could Clinton avoid commenting on Comey’s role and Russian interference in the 2016 election, even if she wanted to, since it’s such a big story. She might well be more effective if she focused more on policy, and less on blame. But it’s really up to other Democratic leaders to distinguish themselves, regardless of what Clinton says or does.

Joshua Zeitz explores the phenomenon of Hillary-hatred in his Politico post, “Why Do They Hate Her? Hillary Clinton is the most maligned presidential loser in history. What’s going on?,” Again, she won the national popular vote, which is more important in measuring attitudes toward her than are the polls. It’s likely that far more people detest Trump. Among many other factors, Trump’s narrow margin of victory in key battleground states could be explained in terms of his votes from those who felt more that it’s time to try an outsider, rather than being driven by intense dislike of Clinton. The media’s Clinton-bashing is not necessarily an accurate reflection of public opinion. But Zeitz is right that conservative media subjected her to an unprecedented campaign of villification, and it would be amazing if it didn’t have an effect — even though she has never been charged with anything.

The New York Times has a report, “First Rule of Far-Right Fight Clubs: Be White and Proud” by Alan Feuer and Jeremy W. Peters, which exposes violent hate groups supporting Trump. The article notes the proliferation of right-wing groups with names like ‘Alt-Knights,’ ‘Proud Boys’ and ‘Oath-Keepers,’ who “recruit battalions of mainly young white men for one-off confrontations with their ideological enemies — the black-clad left-wing militants who disrupted President Trump’s inauguration and have protested against the appearances of conservative speakers on college campuses.” The authors note that “Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime associate of Mr. Trump’s, has taken the Proud Boy oath.” His website, “The Stone Zone,” notes “In 2000 Stone is credited with the hard-ball tactics which resulted in closing down the Miami-Dade Presidential recount. Stone is credited in HBO’s recent movie, “Recount 2000” with fomenting the so-called “Brooks Brothers Riot” in which a Republican mob swarmed the recount demanding a shutdown while thousands of Cuban-Americans marched outside the Courthouse demanding the same thing.” One common denominator of right-wing physical attacks, from the Brooks Brothers Riot, to counter-protests at rallies protesting against Trump on thru the Gianforte meltdown, is their targeting of the elderly, women or vulnerable males.

The Jon Ossoff campaign for the GA-6 House seat is sparring with their adversaries about debates. The Ossoff campaign wants debates to be hosted by “the metro Atlanta press corps” to help keep the focus on district-wide concerns, and it has turned down a debate format hosted by CNN’s national anchors for a national audience. “Ossoff’s campaign pointed to a May 31 statement in which he repeated his support for six local debates and “expressed disappointment” that [Karen] Handel declined to participate in a showdown hosted by CBS 46.,” notes Jim Galloway at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Also re the GA-6 election, Mike DeBonis and David Weigel explain at PowerPost why “Amid Trump’s unpopularity, Democrats face rising criticism for failing to invest more in special elections,” and note: “Republican-aligned outside groups funded mainly by large donors have swamped their Democratic counterparts, led by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Paul D. Ryan-aligned super PAC that has announced plans to pump $7 million into the race. The main Democratic super PAC aimed at House races, in comparison, has announced only $700,000 in spending ahead of a June 20 runoff…The disparity in outside funding has raised alarms among Democrats who fear that the party is squandering clear opportunities in its quest to win the House majority in 2018…“Democrats make it as hard as possible to be successful in the outside money game,” said Bill Burton, who co-founded the first major Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA. “The roadblocks preventing donors from wanting to engage are far more abundant. Our activists want our values to be reflected in everything we do, and that’s great — but on the GOP side they’re not as adherent to principles.””

“…The media are just totally unable to grasp the idea that some people are turned away from the polls by voter suppression efforts. They’re constantly pouring cold water on the idea that people could be turned away. They spent so much time interviewing Trump voters and trying to figure out, why did people vote for Donald Trump, what was their motivation—as opposed to spending even any time trying to interview people who were turned away from the polls or who weren’t registered to vote, and asking them, what happened to you, why were you disenfranchised, why did you decide not to participate, why did you try to participate and you couldn’t? So to me, I still have a lot of issues with how the media is covering this issue.” –From Janine Jackson’s FAIR interview with The Nation’s Ari Berman, author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.

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