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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Whatever else you read today, check out Ari Berman’s Mother Jones article, “Rigged: How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump.” As Berman writes, “A post-election study by Priorities USA, a Democratic super-PAC that supported Clinton, found that in 2016, turnout decreased by 1.7 percent in the three states that adopted stricter voter ID laws but increased by 1.3 percent in states where ID laws did not change. Wisconsin’s turnout dropped 3.3 percent. If Wisconsin had seen the same turnout increase as states whose laws stayed the same, “we estimate that over 200,000 more voters would have voted in Wisconsin in 2016,” the study said. These “lost voters”—those who voted in 2012 and 2014 but not 2016—”skewed more African American and more Democrat” than the overall voting population…After the election, registered voters in Milwaukee County and Madison’s Dane County were surveyed about why they didn’t cast a ballot. Eleven percent cited the voter ID law and said they didn’t have an acceptable ID; of those, more than half said the law was the “main reason” they didn’t vote. According to the study’s author, University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist Kenneth Mayer, that finding implies that between 12,000 and 23,000 registered voters in Madison and Milwaukee—and as many as 45,000 statewide—were deterred from voting by the ID law. “We have hard evidence there were tens of thousands of people who were unable to vote because of the voter ID law,” he says…Its impact was particularly acute in Milwaukee, where nearly two-thirds of the state’s African Americans live, 37 percent of them below the poverty line. Milwaukee is the most segregated city in the nation, divided between low-income black areas and middle-class white ones.”

As for solutions to the problem, Berman quotes former Missouri Secretary of State and Founder of let America Vote Jason Kander, who points out that so far “it has been a politically consequence-free exercise for vote suppressors. That has to change.” Further, writes Berman, “Let America Vote plans to open field offices in Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Tennessee in 2018 and to focus on electing pro-voting-rights candidates for state legislature, secretary of state, and governor. The group has signed up more than 65,000 volunteers and placed more than 100 interns and staffers in Virginia, which has a strict voter ID law, for the 2017 gubernatorial and legislative elections, with a goal of contacting half a million voters. “We’re saying, ‘If you’re going to make it harder to vote, we’re going to make it a lot harder for you to get reelected,’” Kander says.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched its first national TV ad:

Conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin notes “The GOP nose dive now shows up in individual races. The Cook Political Report tells us: “Based on recent developments in races and conversations with candidates and operatives on both sides of the aisle, many races have the potential to become more competitive. This week, we’re changing our ratings in 12 districts.” Spoiler alert: All are shifting away from Republicans. Cook now rates one GOP seat (retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s seat in Florida’s 27th Congressional District) as leaning to the Democrats, 12 GOP seats as toss-ups and 23 GOP seats as only “lean Republican.” Put differently, of the 45 competitive seats, 36 are held by the GOP. If it loses 24, Democrats win the House majority.”

“The reality is that if the GOP caucus in the House and Senate can remain intact, they can pass Trump’s tax cut for their wealthy donors without a single Democratic vote,” writes Dean Obeidallah at The Daily Beast. “But even with Senate GOP using the budget reconciliation process so they only need 50 votes to pass this, they are worried. That’s why Trump, along with Ivanka and Jared Kushner, are wining and diningDemocratic senators in Red States up for re-election like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp. But in reality, how many voters in West Virginia and North Dakota will be passionate about a massive tax cut for the 1 percent that offers only empty promises for the rest of us?!..The Democrats shouldn’t play ball with Trump on this—even if Trump offers incentives like fixing the ACA. Trump is a serial liar who can’t be trusted. But Democratic leaders need to do more than say no—they need to use every means available to define the Trump tax plan for what it really is: A massive tax cut for the GOP’s wealthy backers that offers the rest of us the promises of a proven liar…Yes, it will be challenging to stop this but so was defeating the GOP’s ACA repeal and yet we won there. And if we can win this battle, we are well on the way to winning the war.”

Thomas B. Edsall’s latest New York Times op-ed includes a range of insights from politial commentators about the reasons behind dyfunctional democracy, including this one by University of Michigan political scientist Ron Inglehart: “What makes the United States so distinctive? One reason may be that in recent years U.S. democracy has become appallingly dysfunctional. It suffers from 1) virtual paralysis at the top, as exemplified by the willingness of Congress to shut down the federal government, regardless of the damage to the country’s credit, after failing to get its way via normal procedures in a budget standoff with the White House; 2) massive increases in income inequality — greater than those found in any other established democracy, with most of the population’s real income declining during the past few decades despite substantial economic growth; and 3) the disproportionate and growing political influence of billionaires, as money plays a greater role in U.S. politics than in almost any other democracy…The economic stagnation and rising inequality of recent decades have led to increasing support for authoritarian, xenophobic political candidates, from Marine le Pen in France to Donald Trump in the United States.”

For an update on the debate among Democrats about whether or not to impeach Trump, read Graham Vyse’s New Republic article “The Impeachment Litmus Test Is Dividing Democrats,” in which he notes, ““An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history,” said Gerald Ford, then the House minority leader, in 1970. The Republican Party almost certainly won’t remove Trump from power before the midterm elections next fall, but Democrats are on firm ground calling for the GOP to do so. Scholars are building a case against Trump based on obstruction of justice, conflicts of interest, and corruption, but as Slate’s Jacob Weisberg wrote back in May, the constitutional phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” may well cover “a much wider range of presidential abuses.” Veteran Washington journalist Elizabeth Drew, author of a book on Watergate, made a similar point last week. “A president can be held accountable for actions that aren’t necessarily crimes. A crime might be an impeachable offense—but not all impeachable offenses are crimes,” she wrote at The Daily Beast. “Impeachment isn’t a process by which an established set of principles is enforced. There’s no tablet to be taken down from on high and followed; there’s no code of offenses for which a president can be charged. There are precedents, but they’re not binding, which is a good thing.”

At Talking Points Memo, Caitlin MacNeal reports that “A bipartisan group of governors on Wednesday night sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to pass legislation to stabilize Obamacare’s individual health market….“We urge Congress to quickly pass legislation to stabilize our private health insurance markets and make quality health insurance more available and affordable,” the governors wrote in the letter.The governors support the agreement reached by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to restore the subsidies to insurers cut off by the Trump administration this month. They called for the government to fund the cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments through 2019. The governors warned that nixing the CSR payments will raise premiums and cause insurers to leave the marketplace, citing a Congressional Budget Office report predicting a premium spike.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper provided an instructive lesson for his fellow journalists on how to respond when attacked by right-wing media types. As Mary Hui reports at The Washington Post, “CNN’s Jake Tapper and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly traded blows on Twitter late Wednesday afternoon, after O’Reilly taunted Tapper’s ratings for being “as low as you can go.”…Minutes after O’Reilly’s tweet, Tapper fired back at O’Reilly….“ ‘Low’ would be sexually harassing staffers and then getting fired for it — humiliated in front of the world,” he wrote…Now THAT would be low.”

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