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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Paul Krugman has a sobering reminder in his NYT column, “Conspiracies, Corruption and Climate,” and observes, “…Thanks to Trump’s electoral victory, know-nothing, anti-science conservatives are now running the U.S. government. When you read news analyses claiming that Trump’s deal with Democrats to keep the government running for a few months has somehow made him a moderate independent, remember that’s it not just Pruitt: Almost every senior figurein the Trump administration dealing with the environment or energy is both an establishment Republican and a denier of climate change and of scientific evidence in general…It’s true that scientists have returned the favor, losing trust in conservatives: more than 80 percent of them now lean Democratic. But how can you expect scientists to support a party whose presidential candidates won’t even concede that the theory of evolution is right?”

A Tutorial on partisan gerrymandering” from Sam Wang at The Princeton Election Consortium:

E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains why “Trump has spent his whole presidency making Democrats stronger,” and previews the short-term strategy ahead for Dems, noting that Trump “is still somewhat distinctive in his nativism, but this hardly bodes well for cooperation with progressives and moderates. And oddly enough, the departure of nationalist-in-chief Stephen K. Bannon removed one voice in his circle advocating positions on infrastructure, trade and taxes that had at least something in common with Democratic views…Democrats will certainly try to press the temporary advantage they seem to have on behalf of immigrants endangered by Trump’s moves against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. They’ll also push for Obamacare funding, an end to the debt ceiling and a variety of budget concessions.”

Meanwhile, Jake Tapper argues at CNN Politics that “Bannon and allies preparing primary challenges against GOP senators.” As Tapper writes, “Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and his allies are preparing primary challenges against Republican senators, a source close to Bannon confirmed to CNN. The target list includes Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, Alabama Sen. Luther Strange, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, the source said…He has begun working with conservative mega-donor Robert Mercer and has installed an ally in an outside group that is expected to target GOP lawmakers and push Trump’s agenda…”

Kyle Kondik reports at Sabato’s Crystal Ball that “The retirement of Rep. Dave Reichert (R, WA-8) on Wednesday from a swing district immediately transforms that district from a longshot Democratic pickup opportunity to one of their best chances to flip a GOP-held seat in the whole country. Accordingly, we’re moving it from Likely Republican all the way to Toss-up…If one would have asked Democrats at the start of the year to pick two, but only two, House Republicans to retire in advance of 2018, they might have easily picked Reichert and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R, FL-27), who holds a seat Clinton won by 20 points and where we have installed the Democrats as early favorites after Ros-Lehtinen’s retirement. Had they been running for reelection, Reichert and Ros-Lehtinen may have been close to unbeatable even in a Democratic wave environment; now Democrats have, probably at worst, even odds to win both seats.” However, cautions Kondik, “One potential problem for Democrats is that Washington, like California, is a top-two primary state, meaning that all candidates run together in the primary and the top two finishers advance to the general election. It’s possible that if there are several Democrats running and just two credible Republicans, the GOP could squeeze two candidates into the general election and shut out the Democrats.”

[Bannon] “seemed to criticize the president’s recent decision to rescind protections for “dreamers” — those 690,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as young children — while giving Congress six months to devise a legislative solution,” writes Ashley Parker in “Bannon declares war with Republican leadership in Congress” at Post Politics. “The move, he said, could cost Republicans the House in the 2018 election….“If this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion, in February and March, it will be a civil war inside the Republican Party that will be every bit as vitriolic as 2013,” Bannon said. “And to me, doing that in the springboard of primary season for 2018 is extremely ­unwise.”

“…The psychological relationship between the parties has a certain symmetry. Both fear each other will cheat to win and use their power to stack the voting deck. “If Republicans win in close elections, Democrats say it’s only because they cheated by making it harder for Democratic constituencies to vote; if Democrats win in close elections, Republicans say it’s only because they voted illegally.” But while it is nottrue that Democrats have allowed illegal voting in nontrivial levels, it isextremely true that Republicans have deliberately made voting inconvenient for Democratic-leaning constituencies. The psychology is parallel, but the underlying facts are not.” — from “The Only Problem in American Politics Is the Republican Party” by Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine.

In his TPM Editor’s Blog, “More Thoughts on the Intra-Democratic Divide,” Josh Marshall offers an analogy that illuminates the role of racism in American politics: “A small but significant number of whites in the industrial midwest who had voted for Barack Obama once or even twice were susceptible to being ‘activated’ by the politics of white backlash. I think political racism or white supremacy is best seen like a virus which can remain dormant only to be activated under certain conditions…To the extent that a significant number of these are sometimes Democratic voters, we can say they are racists, people who can be activated to support white backlash politics under the right conditions or are at a minimum people who are ready to vote for a racist candidate even if that’s something they want to ignore rather than embrace. But however you define them, Democrats need to win some percentage of them back to win elections. And without winning elections, there’s no progress on voting rights, universal health care, wealth inequality, civil rights or anything else.”

Is it a mistake to pass legislation that is wholly opposed by one political party? Matthew J. Belvedere notes in his CNBC post, “Democrat Sen. Mark Warner: We perhaps screwed up passing Obamacare with only support from our party” that “Republicans are making a mistake by not taking a bipartisan approach and trying to craft tax reform by themselves, Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner told CNBC on Monday.”If there’s one thing we’ve seen, when either political party tries to do big things only with one side of the aisle, you generally screw up,” said Warner, a member of the Senate Finance and Budget committees.” But the suggestion that Democrats screwed up in passing the Affordable Care Act without any Republican votes ignores the fact that Obama and the Democrats bent way over backwards to try and win some Republican votes. What are they syupposed to do — not pass health care reform because one party refuses to negotiate in good faith? Also the measure passed with the support of 60 percent of the U.S. Senate, which is an overwhelming majority, even if they were all Democrats.

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