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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Aaron Blake reports that “President Trump’s own pollster just confirmed his base is cracking” at The Fix. As Blake notes, “Trump’s own pollster just shared data showing 1 out of every 4 Republicans (25 percent) disapprove of Trump — a number that has increased by 6 percentage points since June. If that’s not losing your base, I’m not sure what is. Does it mean the base has completely deserted him? Of course not. But it shows the steady deterioration from other polls is confirmed by Trump’s own pollster. And it sure as heck rebuts Trump’s recent claim that his base is “stronger than ever.”

Joan C. Williams, author of “White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America,” offers several good insights in her article, “Liberal elite, it’s time to strike a deal with the working class” at The Guardian, including: “The Democrats have become a regional party, confined to blue coasts and blue-dot islands, leaving an ocean of Republican rural and rust belt red in between…For Democrats to make progress in that sea of Republican red, we need to be willing to address what’s fueling economic populism: economics. When Montana’s governor, Steve Bullock, asked Trump supporters what Democrats needed to do to win their votes, a 27-year-old apprentice in a metal shop answered: “Get us good jobs. Plain and simple. Seems like I got to work my butt off, and I barely get by…Democrats need to prioritize good jobs for non-college grads affected by or alarmed about the hollowing out of the middle class ahead of some issues that matter more to me personally, notably abortion rights and gun control…Democrats need to thread a necklace that includes four overlapping groups: the liberal-to-moderate college-educated elite, the white working class, communities of color, and the progressives and millennials who flocked to Bernie Sanders. Good jobs hold deep appeal for both communities of color and the white working class. College-educated liberals and moderates will vote Democratic regardless. Democrats need to thread a necklace that includes four overlapping groups: the liberal-to-moderate college-educated elite, the white working class, communities of color, and the progressives and millennials who flocked to Bernie Sanders. Good jobs hold deep appeal for both communities of color and the white working class. College-educated liberals and moderates will vote Democratic regardless.”

Williams also provides this perceptive take on ‘litmus tests,’ and she obnserves, “To build a coalition, everyone has to give a little. But saying abortion should not be a litmus test is very different from saying the party is backing off support for reproductive rights…What “litmus tests” should mean is that we won’t hold candidates in red districts to progressive “purity”. Whose issue should we trade off? Trade-offs should be balanced and situational. Announcing that you are always going to abandon the most cherished priority of a single group is a recipe for discord…The Democratic National Committee should make a considered assessment of who the most viable candidates are in a given district, and make trade-offs about whom to run so that no one group’s ox gets gored consistently…No one gets their way all the time: that’s called a coalition. And it’s coalitions that win, folks. If you want purity, become a priest…”

Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, has an update on U.S. Senate races, with detailed analyses for a score of contests. Kondik also looks at the big picture, and onbserves, “Republicans currently hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, and they would need to gain eight seats to get to the magic 60-seat threshold needed to overcome Democratic filibusters. Such a gain does not seem like a realistic possibility with an unpopular Trump as president, although the map is so attractive that the Republicans easily could start 2019 with more seats than they hold now. A Democratic takeover seems very unlikely given that they have so many seats to defend and only two real targets, Arizona and Nevada. The best possible scenario for Democrats, barring an unexpected vacancy triggering a special election, would seem to be a 50-50 Senate with a Republican vice president breaking ties, and even that seems improbable from the perspective of August 2017…Regardless, the best bet right now seems to be one in favor of only marginal net change either way in the next Senate.”

In her Washington Post column, Katrina vanden Heuval notes the pivotal role of “citizens movements,” which have helped to “stiffen the spines of Democrats and enforce unity in opposition to the right-wing agenda of Trump and the Republican Congress. The mobilization against the Republican health-care plan, which would have stripped millions of health care to pay for tax cuts for the few, included virtually the entire activist base of the party — unions, senior groups, women’s and civil rights groups, online activists such as MoveOn.org, grass-roots groups such as People’s Action, and more. They enforced Democratic unity while challenging Republicans in their offices and town-hall meetings.” She adds that “activists will challenge Trump’s infrastructure plan, which appears to feature the worst forms of crony capitalism: “public private partnerships” that privatize highways and bridges and impose tolls on users; tax giveaways to companies stowing profits abroad.”

At vox.com Sarah Kliff and Jeff Stein post on a boomlet in support for a Medicaid buy-in among Democrats. “In an interview with Vox, [Sen. brian] Schatz [D-HI] revealed that he’s preparing a new bill that could grant more Americans the opportunity to enroll in Medicaid by giving states the option to offer a “buy-in” to the government program on Obamacare’s exchanges…That would make Medicaid into the Affordable Care Act’s public option, creating another insurance plan in markets with few or no private plans and putting private payers in competition with the much cheaper Medicaid system…One of the unintended consequences of the Republicans trying to cut Medicaid is they made Medicaid really popular,” Sen. Schatz said in an interview…Schatz said he would support Medicare-for-all, even as he puts forward a different proposal. “If there’s ever a vote for single-payer, I’m a ‘yes,’” he told Vox. “But there are lots of things we can do in the meantime to make progress for tens of millions of Americans. And we should do those things…His proposal would expand the public health insurance program from one that covers only low-income Americans to one open to anyone seeking coverage, depending on what each state does. The idea is similar to the government-run “public option” that some Democrats advocated for during the battle over the Affordable Care Act’s passage.”

Paul Krugman concludes his New York Times column, “Trump Makes Caligula Look Pretty Good” with this salient observation: “So the odds are that we’re stuck with a malevolent, incompetent president whom nobody knowledgeable respects, and many consider illegitimate. If so, we have to hope that our country somehow stumbles through the next year and a half without catastrophe, and that the midterm elections transform the political calculus and make the Constitution great again.”

NYT columnist Thomas B. Edsall sheds light on Trump’s ‘white identity’ politics: “…The president has capitalized on the increasing salience of race and ethnicity in recent years. The furious reaction to many different historical and cultural developments — mass immigration; the success of the civil rights and women’s rights movements; the election and re-election of a black president; and the approaching end of white majority status in the United States — has created a political environment ripe for the growth of white identity politics…Once Trump secured this “white identifier” base — making him competitive in a multicandidate field — he was positioned to expand his traction among traditional Republicans, including a decisive majority of those who backed Mitt Romney, John McCain and George W. Bush…Trump has mobilized the white identity electorate, and in doing so has put the tenuous American commitment to racial and ethnic egalitarianism on the line…now, under siege, his only strategy for survival is to pour gasoline on the flames.”

Eric Alterman explores “How Conservatives Manipulated the Mainstream Media to Give Us President Trump” at Moyers & Company. Alterman draws from an “extremely critical” Harvard/MIT report on the impact of journalism on the 2016 presidential election authored by six academics. Noting that the report received “almost no attention in the mainstream media,” Alterman adds, “The report, titled Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 US Presidential Election, deploys the device of a “media cloud” to help us visualize the manner in which media is actually consumed. Because people tend to get their news in a haphazard way these days — picking up stories from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, local TV, talk radio, cable, network news, newsweeklies, daily newspapers, and the websites that may or may not be part of a daily diet — it doesn’t make sense to simply treat media consumption as a matter of statistics. Sure, many sources — like this one, for instance — are far more trustworthy when it comes to facts and evidence than many others, but most news consumers do not make this distinction…The media cloud project clarifies a number of points that ought to alarm anyone who cares about the future of American democracy and the ability of the mainstream media to cut through the massive layers of propaganda purposely created by far-right elements to confuse facts and undermine evidence. Indeed, what the cloud shows is that the mainstream media is much more likely to follow the lead of the liars than to challenge them.”

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