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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At CNN Politics, Teddy Davis and Abigail Crutchfield of “Biblio,” CNN’s book review program, conduct an illuminating interview with Joan Williams, author of “White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America.” Williams share several revealing insights, including this tip: “Biblio: The media tends to treat every other Trump tweet as a major controversy. What part of his presidency do you think the white working class is actually focused on? What are they going to judge him on? Williams: A lot of them voted with their middle finger. Trump had very high unlikability, but he has a lot of appeal, because he drives the elites nuts. Just constantly attacking Trump threatens to marry his base to him even more because if he’s driving the elites that nuts, we love him. This obsession with Trump’s tweets allows him to control the conversation, and that is not working for us. We need to be having a sustained discussion about whether he’s giving Americans the jobs he’s promised.”

Williams also has a knack for pinpointing the kind of language Dems should be using in discussing controversial social issues, as she shares in this exchange: “Biblio: Your book ends with advice for Democrats about how to talk about hot-button issues. On abortion, you recommend describing the Democratic position as “pro-child, pro-choice, pro-family” versus a more “egocentric” message about “my body, my choice.” For Democrats, is this just a communications problem? Or does there need to be a policy shift? Williams: I think both are right. One of the reasons Republicans have been so incredibly successful at connecting with white working-class people is racism, that’s true. But another reason is they have made every issue into a “jobs issue.” Environmentalism they made into a jobs issue. Immigration, they made it into a jobs issue. You name it, they made it into a jobs issue.”

WaPo’s John Wagner and Scott Clement report that a The Washington Post-University of Maryland poll conducted in September indicates thatr “Democrats have a clear advantage in public trust, with 56 percent of Americans saying they think the party generally represents their political views, compared with 43 percent of Americans saying the Republican Party does the same. A 55 percent majority says the Republican Party mainly opposes their views, and 60 percent say the same of Trump. The poll “finds that 7 in 10 Americans view the Trump administration as dysfunctional,” but “even more Americans, 8 in 10, say Congress is dysfunctional…About three-quarters of Democrats blame Trump “a lot” for causing dysfunction, as do more than half of political independents. But about 1 in 7 Republicans say Trump deserves “a lot” of blame.” Further, “Underscoring the partisan antipathy toward Trump, two-thirds of Democrats in the poll say they do not believe his election was legitimate — a view held by 9 percent of Republicans. Overall, 42 percent of Americans say Trump’s election was not legitimate. By comparison, 14 percent say former president Barack Obama’s 2008 election was not legitimate.

Syndicated columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. provides some succinct talking points for Democrats regarding the Republicans’ latest tax hustle, and he also spotlights a promising alternative measure Democrats should support that would clearly resonate with middle class voters: “…Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) have introduced a bill that would dramatically expand the child tax credit to $3,600 a year per child for those age 0 to 5, and $3,000 a year for those 6 to 18. To direct the most assistance to the poor and the less affluent parts of the middle class, the credit begins gradually to phase out for incomes of single parents at $75,000 a year and married couples at $110,000…The plan, Matthews writes, would cut child poverty in the country almost in half, from 16.1 to 8.9 percent. The cost: roughly $1 trillion over a decade, as against the $1.5 trillion Republicans claim would be the net price of their tax cuts after they are done shuffling the tax code around.”

A half-hour teach-in on partisan gerrymandering from the Princeton Election Consortium:

According to The Associated Press, “A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed…The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system. The data wipe was revealed in an email sent last week from an assistant state attorney general to plaintiffs in the case that was later obtained by the AP. More emails obtained in a public records request confirmed the wipe…The lawsuit, filed July 3 by a diverse group of election reform advocates, aims to force Georgia to retire its antiquated and heavily criticized election technology…Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, mostly Georgia voters, want to scrap the state’s 15-year-old vote-management system — particularly its 27,000 AccuVote touchscreen voting machines, hackable devices that don’t use paper ballots or keep hardcopy proof of voter intent. The plaintiffs were counting on an independent security review of the Kennesaw server, which held elections staging data for counties, to demonstrate the system’s unreliability…Wiping the server “forestalls any forensic investigation at all,” said Richard DeMillo, a Georgia Tech computer scientist following the case. “People who have nothing to hide don’t behave this way.” The poll raises questions about the outcome of the GA-6 run-off election on June 20,in  which Jon Ossoff lost to Clare Handel by a margin of 51.8 to 48.3 percent.

In his New York Times op-ed, “The Silence of the Democrats.” Michael Tomasky, editor of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas and columnist for The Daily Beast, writes “The Democrats are undergoing a historic transformation, from being the party that embraced neoliberalism in the early 1990s to one that is rejecting that centrist posture and moving left. There’s plenty about this to cheer — the neoliberal Democratic Party didn’t do nearly enough to try to arrest growing income inequality, among other shortcomings…There will be necessary internecine fights, and they boil down to loyalty tests on particular positions demanded by the vanguard…Forget about who’s right and wrong in these debates. Time will sort that out. My point is that they tend to consume a party experiencing a shift. The Democratic Party, because it is an amalgam of interest groups in a way the Republican Party is not, has always had a tendency to elevate the candidate who can check the most boxes…When the party’s leaders tussle over this or that policy, they also need to take a step back, to see the direction the country — the West itself — is heading, and take a stand on it.”

David Weigel reports at PowerPost that “The Democratic National Committee on Friday rejected a resolution that would have urged independents such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to “register or affiliate with the Democratic Party” next year, one of several small victories for the party’s left wing.” It was a horrible idea. Not only would it piss off a large constituency; it would also brand the Democrats as an intolerant, repressive, shrinking tent party. As James Zogby, the outgoing chairman of the DNC’s resolutions committee, put it, such a requirement  “puts salt in a wound that we need to be closing right now…”

Here’s the Wikipedia list of the “most listened to radio programs in the U.S. according to weekly cumulative listenership” —  which indicates that Democrats are getting creamed on talk radio daily and nation-wide by GOP-friendly talk shows, especially during drive time:

Program Format Network Broadcast Time Weekly listeners (in millions)

Morning Edition Newsmagazine NPR AM Drive 14.6
All Things Considered Newsmagazine NPR PM Drive 14.4
The Rush Limbaugh Show Conservative talk Premiere Midday 14
The Sean Hannity Show Conservative talk Premiere PM Drive 13.5
The Dave Ramsey Show Financial talk Self-syndicated Midday 13+
The Savage Nation Conservative talk Westwood One East Coast PM Drive 11
The Glenn Beck Program Conservative talk Premiere East Coast AM Drive 10.5
The Mark Levin Show Conservative talk Westwood One West Coast PM Drive 10
Coast to Coast AM Alternative reality talk Premiere Overnights 9
Marketplace Financial news APM PM Drive 8.7
Delilah Adult contemporary music Premiere Evenings <8
The Thom Hartmann Program Progressive talk Westwood One Midday 6.25
The Alex Jones Show Alt-right/conspiracy Self-syndicated Midday 5.9
Fresh Air Newsmagazine/talk NPR Midday 4.5
A Prairie Home Companion Variety show APM Weekends 3.5
Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! Panel game show NPR Weekends 3.2
Country Music Greats Radio Show Classic country music Syndication Networks, Inc. Twice weekly 3.2
The Hugh Hewitt Show Conservative talk Salem East Coast AM Drive 2.25+
The Lia Show Country music Westwood One Evenings 2+
The Kim Komando Show Digital lifestyle issues WestStar (self-syndicated) Weekends 2.5+

Do Democratic media mavens have a strategy for addressing this imbalance, or do they just sigh and shrug it off?

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