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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“Make no mistake: The results Tuesday are fully consistent with a so-called wave election, like the ones that brought Democrats to power in the House in 2006 and back out in 2010,” writes Nate Cohn at The Upshot. “All of the conditions for a 2018 wave are in place. The president’s approval rating is stuck in the mid-to-high 30s. The Democrats hold nearly a double-digit lead on the generic congressional ballot. The president’s party nearly always struggles in midterm elections.”

In his Plum Line post, “After massive rejection of Trumpism, Democrats expand offensive to take back House,” Greg Sargent reports that “House Democratic strategists, convinced that Tuesday’s results represent a massive voter uprising against Trumpism that will continue through next year, are adding nearly a dozen GOP districts to their list of 2018 takeover targets, in an effort to expand the map to keep pace with the rapid deterioration of the GOP’s political fortunes.” Sargent lists the congrersssional distrixts, which includes Speaker Paul Ryan’s seat (WI-1)and adds “By putting these districts on its target list, the DCCC isn’t necessarily saying it will heavily invest in these races yet. The committee will actively recruit in them and lend staff, research, analytical and communications support to candidates in them and consider them for future expenditures.”

Matthew Yglesias explains at Vox why “Democrats ought to invest in Doug Jones’s campaign against Roy Moore” for the U.S. Senate seat: “…The party needs to show that it stands for something and will fight for it even on unfavorable terrain. Moore’s blatant support for unconstitutional religious discrimination, overt hostility to the rule of law, and backing for a grossly regressive tax scheme violates core principles, and Democrats ought to be seen as fighting back against this vision everywhere…If a real race is joined, then Republicans nationally will of course do their part to support Moore, and in doing so, they will help further discredit themselves. Letting Moore run without meaningful opposition lets Republicans help themselves to his Senate seat without getting his stink on themselves — which would be a mistake.”

At New York Magazine Ed Kilgore writes of the child predator allegations against Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore and the GOP calls for him to quit the campaign that “this could well be a five-alarm political fire for the GOP in one of its strongholds. And it opens up the first realistic path for Democrats to secure control of the Senate by the end of 2018…Moore was already more vulnerable than Republicans usually are in Alabama statewide races. The current RealClearPolitics polling average gives him only a six-point lead over Democrat Doug Jones. If the new allegations aren’t dispelled very quickly, Moore could be in enough trouble to convince Democrats to make a major investment in Jones, and then anything could happen.”

Clare Malone and Harry Enten note at fivethirtyeight.com that “Moore’s name will appear on the ballot — it’s too late to switch it out for the Dec. 12 election — but there’s certainly still a chance for Republicans to launch a write-in campaign. Who’s at the top of the list? Strange. Murkowski, who famously won a write-in victory of her own, has already said that she’s in touch with Strange about this very thing. Should Moore stay in the race — as he has said he will — and Strange jumps in, the Republican vote could split. That would be good news for Jones.” Meanwhile, the Jones campaign would do well to connect with whoever mobilized the Democratic GOTV in northern Virginia.

Helaine Olen makes a salient point in her Plum Line post, “So there’s infighting among Democrats? That’s not necessarily a bad thing.” As she puts it, “For more than a year, there has been a load of hand-wringing about how the political divisions among Democrats and the all-too-public fighting over them is going to cost them at the polling booth…This is all so much insider baseball. Many of the people arguing about this stuff on a daily basis are Washington insiders and others steeped in the minutia of party politics. (It’s quite possible some are Russian bots.) None of this describes the vast majority of voters…What’s more, the number of people whose voting behavior might be influenced by this infighting is likely infinitesimal. The typical voter gives less priority to the party’s long-term agenda, and more to protecting what he or she has in the present, and making at least some progress for the future…So it probably shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to discover that Democrats were angrier at Trump than at one another, and prioritized accordingly. Who would have thought it?” So much for the media’s tired “Dems in Disarray” cliche.

Democrats, Republicans, take note: A new era has begun” by E, J, Dionne, Jr. provides a call to arms for progressives: “Tuesday’s Democratic sweep obliterated a series of outdated story lines in American politics and opened a new era. Forget those repetitious tales about some piece of President Trump’s base still sticking with him. It’s now clear, from Virginia and New Jersey to Washington state, Georgia, New York, Connecticut and Maine, that the energy Trump has unleashed among those who loathe him has the potential to realign the country….A brief memo to Democrats: You’d be fools to descend into sectarian infighting between your moderate and progressive wings. The results on Tuesday showed that voters across a broad spectrum backed candidates of various ideological hues to demand a new political direction. Your first job is to rally what we now know is an American majority that sees Trump’s presidency as a disaster for our nation.”

In their post-mortem, “Democratic Domination in the Old Dominion,” VA politics wonks Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley, write, “…The big shock to us, and to anyone who is honest about their pre-election expectations, was the Democrats winning what could be a 50-50 tie in the Virginia House of Delegates. Democrats went into the election at a 66-34 deficit in the House, and while they were expected to win seats, the low double digits seemed like the absolute max. Instead they are on track to net 15 or more seats, with a chance of getting to a 50-50 split or even taking a slim majority (the canvass is ongoing and recounts loom in a few seats)…Virginia Democrats were able to make huge gains in the state House of Delegates by effectively winning only Clinton-won seats (they only won a single Trump-won seat, and it was a marginal one at that). Democrats cannot get to a House of Representatives majority exclusively through Clinton-won seats. They need to net 24 seats next year to win the House, and there are only 23 Republicans in Clinton-won seats. It’s also impractical to think Democrats could flip all 23 of these seats: Many of them are held by skilled incumbents. So Democrats will need to win some Trump-won territory to capture the House.”

But the award for best sentence about the Democratic landslide in Virginia goes to Harold Meyerson, executive editor of The American Prospect, who writes, “After the Third Battle of Bull Run, Manassas will now be represented in Richmond by one transgender delegate and one socialist delegate.”  Meyerson explains, further: “Not only did Northam pile up huge margins in Northern Virginia’s suburbs, but that’s also where the Democrats made most of their House of Delegates pick-ups. The most prominent of these was the victory of Danica Roem, who will become Virginia’s first transgender legislator, having defeated longtime GOP delegate and self-professed homophobe Robert Marshall. But no less unlikely was the victory of Democrat Lee Carter, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, in the district adjoining Roem’s.” Such are the consequences of Trumpisma in 2017.

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