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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

First the good news, from David Weigel at PowerPost: “Tuesday night, Democrats picked up two seats in Oklahoma, a once-blue state where the Obama years had reduced them to a rump party. It was the fourth pickup in a state legislative race this year,* the only electoral bright spots for a party that is lagging in fundraising and fighting localized battles over leadership and messaging. Michael Brooks, who’d lost a 2014 race for the state’s 44th Senate District, won it by 9 points on Tuesday; Karen Gaddis, who’d narrowly lost the 2016 race for the 75th District of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, took it by 5 points this time.” However, writes Weigel, “The victories also did little to slice into what, by the end of the Obama years, had become a Republican supermajority…

In a Vox exclusive, Sarah Kliff reports that “House Democrats introduce new plan to fix Obamacare,” which stops far short of single-payer reform. As Kliff explains, “Ten House Democrats will unveil a new plan to fix Obamacare, highlighting the parts of the law that have struggled to work and offering modest steps to improve them. The proposal includes more funding to help insurance plans cover the sickest patients, along with possibly changing the timing of the open enrollment season in hopes of attracting more Americans to sign up for insurance…These Democrats are agitating for a new strategy, one where they speak openly about the health law’s weak spots — particularly the individual market — and how to shore them up. The party has so far been reticent to highlight Obamacare’s problems at a moment when Democrats are fighting against Republican efforts to repeal parts of the law.”

At Facing South, however, Sue Sturgis notes that “Medicare for All wins backing of conservative Southern Democrats.” Sturgis reports that “two Blue Dogs cosponsoring Medicare for All are from the South. Vicente Gonzalez, who was elected last year to represent South Texas’ 15th Congressional District, signed on on April 17. Jim Cooper, who has represented Middle Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District since 2003 and who served its 4th Congressional District from 1983 to 1995, signed on on April 25. Both seats are considered safely Democratic…Other Southern Democrats who’ve signed on to the Medicare for All bill for the first time this year are Kathy Castor, Ted Deutch, Al Lawson and Darren Soto of Florida; Bennie Thompson of Mississippi; G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina; and Gene Green and Marc Veasey of Texas.”

Scott Detrow writes at npr.org that some red state Democrats are ready to negotiate on reforming Obamacare, but they are hanging tough on not cutting Medicaid. Further, “Democrats are prepared to drive a hard bargain. A broader measure would need 60 votes to advance, not 50 like the current GOP measure. That means moderate Democrats would suddenly be the key swing votes who have leverage over the bill’s language…Democrats like North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Montana Sen. Jon Tester are both up for reelection next year in deep red states. Both say they’d be happy to deal — but that Republicans would need to drop their push to scale back Medicaid spending. “That has to come off the table,” said Heitkamp. “We cannot be turning back the clock on Medicaid.”…”If eliminating Medicaid, or trimming it back, or however they want to put it is the price for admission, then it’s going to be very difficult,” said Tester.”

U.P.I.’s Allen Cone reports “U.S. adults are divided on the government’s best approach to healthcare insurance reform, according to a Gallup poll…The largest segment, 44 percent, want “significant changes” to the existing Affordable Care Act but to keep it in place, according to the survey. Thirty percent favor repealing and replacing the law and 23 percent want to keep the ACA as it is…With independents, 48 percent want to keep the ACA and make changes. The rest are somewhat equally divided — 25 percent repeal and replace and 23 percent keep it as is.”

In her L.A. Times op-ed, “Democrats are doubling down on the same vanilla centrism that helped give us President Trump,” Melissa Batchelor Warnke quotes Democratic National Comittee Rep. Keith Ellison: “Ellison says he’s keen on rebuilding trust between the Democratic Party and those it represents. “Look, how do you build a trust relationship?” Ellison asked. “You listen to me, I listen to you. When you count on me, when you call on me, you can count on me. But what have we had with the Democratic Party? Sometime around election time we call you and ask you to vote for us. Maybe we ask you for money and then you don’t see us again until we need more votes and more money.” Warnke adds, “One of the goals of the Resistance Summer events is to put the party in contact with the people it represents outside of an election year — a good and necessary idea.”

John Light notes at Common Dreams: “A study by the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA found that Wisconsin’s voter-ID blocked as many as 200,000 people from voting in 2016. That’s an order of magnitude more than the 22,000 votes that delivered the state to Trump.”

In his Harper’s ‘Letter from Washington,’ “It’s My Party: The Democrats struggle to rise from the ashes,” Andrew Cockburn notes a weakness of the Clinton’s campaign which has to do with favoring a technocratic approach over making a more human connection: “Notoriously, the 2016 Clinton campaign put all its trust in a data-driven voter model. In Nebraska, Kleeb remembered the Clinton team working hard. “But what they were missing was the real grassroots person-to-person campaign. They had these sophisticated voter models and their organizers had very specific numerical goals they had to hit at the end of every day. It had no heart. That matters, you know. People vote for people because they think they care about them. It’s not a transactional process, which is exactly what the Clinton campaign was.” (It didn’t help that the voter model failed in many ways to reflect the real-life electorate, fatally underestimating, for example, the number of Trump voters.)…Such withering critiques might warrant major changes in a defeated party’s way of doing business. But indications are that many leading players see no reason why business should not continue as usual.”

Re Mitch Smith’s New York Times article, “Strategy for Democratic Mayors Facing Troubles: Attack Trump,” couldn’t it just be that Democratic elected officials at all levels attack Trump because his outrages are so unrelenting and destructive that responsible leaders can’t ignore them? Think how weird it would be if they didn’t.

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. pjcamp on

    Andrew Cockburn has a short memory. It wasn’t all that long ago that all the pundits were having the vapors over . . . what? What was that again? Oh yeah. Obama’s data driven campaign for the new age. Remember all those articles about the wonks in charge?

    Frankly, if you don’t have data to support your argument against data, and you don’t have an explanation for why it was so bad now and so great 4 years ago, you’re not worth listening to.


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