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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“In general we have to be careful not to whipsaw our policy agenda back and forth based on the details of the last mass shooting. That’s why I think it’s important to constantly be talking about the one policy change that would save the most lives: background checks,” said [U.S. Senator Chris] Murphy.” However, notes Alexander Bolton at The Hill, “Some gun control activists say now is the time to strike on banning semi-automatic rifles with military stylings, such as pistol grips and barrel shrouds, as well as high-capacity magazines that allow sustained bullet sprays…“I would bring the assault weapons ban up. I don’t think background checks is the way to go in Congress,” said Ladd Everitt, director of 1Pulse4America, a gun-violence prevention group created after last year’s Orlando, Fla., nightclub shooting that left 49 people dead…“I would get a vote in Congress on the assault weapons right now. This guy inflicted 600 casualties. This is nuts…”

But Alex Seitz-Wald reports at NBC news that “Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said her legislation would bar the sale, manufacture and possession of so-called bump stocks and other devices — all currently legal — that drastically increase a firearm’s rate of fire…Some Republicans have publicly expressed openness to banning bump stocks. Feinstein said she and Democratic leaders decided to pursue a narrow bill on bump stocks because it has a better chance of success in the GOP-controlled Congress than the more sweeping gun measures they would prefer.”

The top 10 recipients of N.R.A. contributions and “spending to benefit the candidate” in both the House and Senate are Republicans, report David Leonhardt, Ian Prasad Philbrick and Stuart A. Thompson at The New York Times. “Among the top 100 House recipients, 95 are Republican.”

From an interview with NC activist Rev. William Barber by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez at Democracy Now: “We had 26 presidential election debates on both sides of the political aisle. Not one hour on voter suppression. Not one. Not one hour on, excuse me, restoring the voting rights…if you put up a map, every state that has had deep voter suppression also has denied Medicaid expansion, also has denied living wages, also has some of the worst rules in relationship to Latino and immigrant brothers and sisters, also has some of the worst attacks on the LGBT community. So if you know a state is suppressing the vote, you can almost say that state is also against living wages…We talk about Trump winning in Wisconsin by 20,000 or 30,000 votes. There were 250,000 votes suppressed in Wisconsin. In North Carolina, we had over 150 fewer sites doing early voting…So it is amazing to me that we’re having a conversation about Russian hacking, but we’re not having a conversation about racialized voter suppression, which is systemic racism, which is a tool of white nationalism, which is a direct threat to our democracy.”

Here’s how felon voter suppression works in Alabama, according to Connor Sheets, writing in The Guardian: “In 1964, the 24th amendment abolished the poll tax, but to this day in Alabama, money keeps thousands of people away from the ballot box. According to the Sentencing Project, a Washington DC-based criminal justice reform non-profit, there are 286,266 disenfranchised felons in Alabama, or 7.62% of the state’s voting-age population…More than half of those disenfranchised felons are black, despite the fact that African Americans made up only 26.8% of the state’s population as of July 2016, according to a US census estimate…A new state law has cleared the way for people convicted of certain felonies to eventually regain the right to vote. But before that can happen, anyone who has lost the franchise in Alabama for any reason must first fulfill any financial obligations to the state and to their victims, according to the Alabama secretary of state, John Merrill…Researchers with the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard and Yale universities crunched reams of Alabama court records and data from the past two decades for a study published in June in the Journal of Legal Studies.  The research paper states that “a majority of all ex-felons in Alabama – white, black, or otherwise – cannot vote because of a debt they owe to the state.”

At The Upshot, Nate Cohn explains, “So far, four Republicans have announced they will not seek re-election in highly competitive districts (with a Cook Partisan Voter Index of Republican+5 or more Democratic; the Cook P.V.I. measures district partisanship based on its vote in recent presidential elections)…But without a string of retirements, the Democratic path to control of the House is challenging. Incumbents are just that hard to beat…Democrats often look at the districts carried by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election as top-tier targets. But it won’t be so easy. Based on recent elections, Democrats would do well to defeat even half of the incumbents running for re-election in those districts…Over the last decade or so, incumbents have run about seven percentage points ahead of non-incumbents from the same party in similar districts. That’s more than enough to let incumbents in competitive districts survive…Without a surge of Republican retirements, a Democratic House takeover would probably require the party to do even better at defeating Republican incumbents than it did in 2006 or the Republicans did in 2010. If Democrats merely matched those results, they would probably fall a bit short of the 24 seats they need.”

Gregory S. Schneider and Scott Clement of The Washington Post have an update on what is likely to be the most consequential state-wide race of 2017: “A relatively unified party base gives Democrat Ralph Northam a clear lead over Republican Ed Gillespie heading into the final month of the Virginia governor’s race, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll…Northam leads Gillespie by 53 percent to 40 percent among likely voters, with 4 percent supporting Libertarian Cliff Hyra…Northam is the sitting lieutenant governor and a pediatric neurologist. Gillespie is a longtime GOP operative who led the Republican National Committee and nearly unseated U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D) in 2014… The advantage is similar to a Post-Schar School poll this spring but larger than in other public polls of likely voters released over the past month, most of which found Northam up by single digits…But the race is still fluid, with a sizable number of likely voters — one in four — saying they could change their mind before Nov. 7…Confederate monuments and illegal immigration have played prominently during the campaign, but voters say they care more about health care, the economy and education…”

Antonio Flores explains “How the U.S. Hispanic population is changing” at the Pew Research Center web pages, and notes: “The Latino population in the United States has reached nearly 58 million in 2016 and has been the principal driver of U.S. demographic growth, accounting for half of national population growth since 2000…In 2016, Hispanics accounted for 18% of the nation’s population and were the second-largest racial or ethnic group behind whites. (All racial groups are single race non-Hispanic.)..Hispanics of Mexican origin account for 63.3% (36 million) of the nation’s Hispanic population in 2015…California continues to have the largest Latino population among states, but Texas is seeing a faster growth rate. In 2015, 15.2 million Hispanics lived in California, a 39% increase from 10.9 million in 2000. Yet Texas has had even faster growth, with its Hispanic population increasing 60% over the same period, from 6.7 million in 2000 to 10.7 million in 2015. Meanwhile, Georgia’s Hispanic population has more than doubled since 2000, the fastest growth among the 10 states with the largest Hispanic populations.”

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