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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

By a 2-to-1 margin, Americans prefer Obamacare to Republican replacements,” reports WaPo’s Philip Bump. “In the new Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday, we decided to ask the question directly: Which do you prefer, Obamacare or the Republican replacement plan? By a 2-to-1 margin — 50 percent to 24 percent — Americans said they preferred Obamacare…There’s a split by party, as you might expect, with Democrats broadly favoring the existing law and Republicans the latter. But that split wasn’t even, with 77 percent of Democrats favoring the legislation passed in 2010 by their party and only 59 percent of Republicans favoring their party’s solution. Independents in this case came down on the side of the Democrats, with 49 percent favoring the existing law vs. 20 percent backing the GOP alternative…More worrisome for Republicans hoping to pass a new bill is how the support broke out by demographic. Only among Republicans, conservatives, white evangelicals and white men without college degrees did more Americans support the GOP bill than Obamacare. In every other group analyzed, including older respondents and white women without college degrees — an important part of President Trump’s voting base in 2016 — backed the existing law by some margin.”

Paul Krugman’s syndicated column on “The GOP Health Care Con” rolls out the Republicans’ latest catastrophe: “The most important change, however, is the way the bill would effectively gut protection for people with pre-existing medical conditions. The Affordable Care Act put minimum standards on the kinds of policies insurers could offer; the new Senate bill gives in to demands by Ted Cruz that insurers be allowed to offer skimpy plans that cover little, with very high deductibles that would make them useless to most people. The effects would be disastrous, which is what insurers themselves say. In a special memo, AHIP, the insurance industry trade group, warned that it would “fracture and segment insurance markets into separate risk pools,” leading to “unstable health insurance markets” in which people with pre-existing conditions would lose coverage or have plans that were “far more expensive” than under Obamacare…Put another way, this bill would send insurance markets into a classic death spiral. Republicans have predicted such a spiral for years, but kept being wrong: Obamacare, despite having some real problems, is stabilizing, and doing pretty well in states that support it. This bill would sabotage all that progress.”

Bill Lambrecht of the Washington Bureau of the San Antonio Express-News reports on Democratic military veterans running for congress, including: Joseph Kopser (TX); Jason Crow (CO); Dan McCready (NC); Chrissy Houlahan (PA); Mikie Sherrill (NJ); and Josh Butner (NJ). Lambrecht quotes Simon Rosenberg, founder of NDN, a Democratic-aligned think tank in Washington, who notes “The issue of whether America has been betrayed and whether our homeland has been violated by an outside foreign power creates an environment where patriotism and love of country become important in a way that they haven’t been for a very long time.”…Rosenberg said he believes that veterans “are going to drive a very different sensibility in the Democratic Party than we’ve had over the last generation. If we can mount a big argument to the American people based on love of country and patriotism, I think we are going to be a formidable political party in 2018.”

Max Ehrenfreund explains why “Democrats’ internal dispute over the white working class is about to get real” at The Washington Post: “After decades of relying on free-market solutions to achieve liberal aims, Democrats have shifted to the left in recent years, and many are calling for more government intervention in the economy…The shift follows a gradual trend among Democratic voters toward more progressive politics. The share of Democrats calling themselves liberal has increased from 27 percent in 2000 to 42 percent today, according to the Pew Research Center. There are now more ordinary people in the party who describe themselves as liberal than who describe themselves as conservative or moderate.”

AP’s Steve Peoples and Bill Barrow discuss Democrats’ struggle to craft an appealing message that can inspire voters. “The soul-searching comes as Democrats look to flip at least 24 GOP-held seats necessary for a House majority and cut into Republican advantages in U.S. statehouses in the 2018 midterm elections. Yet with a Russia scandal engulfing the White House, a historically unpopular health-care plan wrenching Capitol Hill and no major GOP legislative achievement, Democrats are still struggling to tell voters what their party stands for.” How about “Move America forward with health care for all and investment in infrastructure projects that provide jobs: Vote Democratic.”

“If we kill net neutrality,” writes at Bryan Mercer in his article, “Why Net Neutrality Is a Working-Class Issue” at In These Times, “we will make it more politically possible for Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other big telecom providers to raise their prices and sell your private data for profit. Net neutrality is an important protection that working-class people and communities of color need, considering the history of predatory practices of telecom providers and the tightening wallets of Americans who aren’t part of the one percent…Make no mistake: Net neutrality is one of the defining workers’ rights and civil rights issue of our time. We all know the internet is driving changes in culture, politics and the economy. It is also one of the key spaces where workers can organize—and where mass movements for racial and economic justice blossom and build power.”

Jonathan Chait scores a number of good points in his New York Magazine article, “How ‘Neoliberalism’ Became the Left’s Favorite Insult of Liberals,” including: “The Democratic Party has evolved over the last half-century, as any party does over a long period of time. But the basic ideological cast of its economic policy has not changed dramatically since the New Deal. American liberals have always had some room for markets in their program. Democrats, accordingly, have never been a left-wing, labor-dominated socialist party. (Union membership peaked in 1955, two decades before the party’s supposed neoliberal turn, and has declined steadily since.) They have mediated between business and labor, supporting expanded state power episodically rather than dogmatically. The widespread notion that “neoliberals” have captured the modern Democratic party and broken from its historic mission plays upon nostalgia for a bygone era, when the real thing was messier and more compromised than the sanitized historical memory.”

Geoffrey Skelley, Associate Editor, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, provides an excellent demographic dissection of a critical swing state, Virginia: “Based on the Census Bureau’s 2015 estimates, Virginia ranks sixth among the 50 states in its percentage of the population 25 years or older that has at least a bachelor’s degree…Virginia has also become more diverse in many ways. It’s become more racially and ethnically varied since the 1970 census. Race and education are now the two strongest indicators of voting preference, so the fact that Virginia’s population has moved from being 19% nonwhite in 1970 to about 37% nonwhite today is surely a part of the story as well. The fastest-growing localities in the state, such as Loudoun and Prince William counties in Northern Virginia, have become dramatically more diverse since 1970. Loudoun was 13% nonwhite in 1970; today, it is 10 times bigger in overall population and is about 41% nonwhite. Prince William has seen even more dramatic changes: It was about 6% nonwhite in 1970; today, its population is roughly five times bigger (if you subtract Manassas and Manassas Park from its 1970 totals; they’re now independent cities) and the county is 54% nonwhite. The physical origins of Virginia’s population are now more diverse as well. In 1970, 63% of the state’s population had been born in the state; in 2010, that figure had fallen to just below 50%…These are just some of the factors that have moved Virginia in the Democrats’ direction in national politics. It will be interesting to see where it goes next.”

Associated Press reporter David A. Lieb’s “Analysis indicates partisan gerrymandering has benefited GOP” provides a revealing quantification of what you already knew: “The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage. It’s designed to detect cases in which one party may have won, widened or retained its grip on power through political gerrymandering. The analysis found four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts…Traditional battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their U.S. or state House races. All had districts drawn by Republicans after the last Census in 2010…The AP analysis also found that Republicans won as many as 22 additional U.S. House seats over what would have been expected based on the average vote share in congressional districts across the country. That helped provide the GOP with a comfortable majority over Democrats instead of a narrow one.”

3 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Jack Olson on

    In “USA Today”, Tim Kaine proposed this message for the Democrats: “Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages.” The advantage of this is its positive tone, which ought to be helpful in gaining the voters of voters who are sick and tired of mudslinging campaigns.

  2. J.P. McJefferson on

    As I have pointed out previously, the tolerance of the American public for this continued malfeasance and incompetence is not sacrosanct — it will reach a point of eruption. The creaking sounds of a breaking democracy can already be heard. If the GOP leadership, the ones that know better, continue to force a one-sided, reckless, heartless health care bill through the process simply to fulfill a 7-year, half-baked, mantra (“repeal & replace”) the democratic underpinnings may fracture. See my post: “Donald The Muddler & The Ones That Know Better” https://goo.gl/qm2Bfw #BetterGovmt


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