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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

On CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ Democrat Doug Jones got a break in his quest to win a U.S. Senate seat, when Republican Senator Richard C. Shelby “said repeatedly Sunday  that the state’s fellow Republicans can “do better” than Roy Moore, the conservative judge accused of sexual misconduct‘ who faces Democrat Doug Jones in Tuesday’s special election for the U.S. Senate,” report Rosalind S. Helderman and David Weigel at Post Politics. “Shelby has previously said he was not supporting Moore, but his words on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday offered a fresh denunciation of his party’s nominee just days before Alabamians go to the polls in an election to replace former senator Jeff Sessions, who now serves as attorney general…“I didn’t vote for Roy Moore,” Shelby said. “I wouldn’t vote for Roy Moore. I think the Republican Party can do better.” This may up the ‘shame ante’ surrounding Moore for Alabama voters a notch. Apparently the GOP establishment is too thru with the Steve Bannon as king-maker thing.

Edward-Isaac Dovere’s Politico post, “Why Democrats win even if they lose in Alabama: The party will either pick up a seat in the Deep South — or have Roy Moore to campaign against in the midterms,” explains:  “If Roy Moore wins, they’ll spend the next year yoking every Republican they can to the accused child predator and a president who welcomed him into the GOP fold. They’ll be quick to remind everyone of all the other comments Moore has made against Muslims and gays and in favor of Vladimir Putin’s view of America as evil, as well as his rosy view of slave-era America…Supporting Moore “already effects the [Republican National Committee] now trying to go out and raise money. A lot of people are saying, ‘Why in the world would I contribute to an organization that’s pushing an alleged pedophile and child molester?’ It’s a big problem,” Republican Sen. Jeff] Flake said. “He’ll be the gift that keeps on giving for Democrats. If you’re running in 2018, Roy Moore’s going to be your new best friend. As a Republican, to think that you can win without the baggage of Roy Moore is pretty naïve,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).”

To get a better understanding of the obstacles Democratic candidate Doug Jones still faces, howecver, read “What’s Missing From Reports on Alabama’s Black Turnout” by Vann R. Newkirk II at The Atlantic. Newkirk writes, “As the cornerstone of the movement for the franchise, Alabama has also played the part of headquarters of resistance, a long legal and legislative guerrilla war against voting rights that culminated in 2013’s Shelby County v. Holder case, one where officials in the Alabama county successfully sued for all of the former dominion of Jim Crow to be released from federal VRA oversight. That victory, and the structural barriers to voting erected in its aftermath, are a serious—and largely unacknowledged—impediment to Democrat Doug Jones’s chances in the special election for the state’s open Senate seat on Tuesday…Early voting, which has been a key factor for other states in increasing black turnout, is not permitted in Alabama. The state also doesn’t have no-fault absentee voting, preregistration for teens, or same-day registration.* In all, it’s harder to vote in Alabama than just about anywhere else, a dynamic that should tend towards cooling the turnout of people who’ve only been allowed to vote in the state for 50 years…Perhaps Jones will do enough canvassing in the black belt to eke out a victory this year, but the structural barriers to voting will likely remain, or worsen.”

In his New York Times column, “The Republican War on Children,” Paul Krugman writes about the GOP tax bill and the Republican’s failure to refund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which provided health care for 8.9 million kids: “Let me ask you a question; take your time in answering it. Would you be willing to take health care away from a thousand children with the bad luck to have been born into low-income families so that you could give millions of extra dollars to just one wealthy heir?…You might think that this question is silly, hypothetical and has an obvious answer. But it’s not at all hypothetical, and the answer apparently isn’t obvious. For it’s a literal description of the choice Republicans in Congress seem to be making as you read this.

The Republican tax bill, when finally enacted, may set a record of sorts. As Taegan Goddard reports at Political Wire, “A new USA Today/Suffolk University Poll finds just 32% support the GOP tax plan while 48% oppose it…Key finding: “That’s the lowest level of public support for any major piece of legislation enacted in the past three decades, including the Affordable Care Act in 2009.”…“Americans are skeptical of the fundamental arguments Republicans have made in selling the bill: A 53% majority of those surveyed predict their own families won’t pay lower taxes as a result of the measure, and an equal 53% say it won’t help the economy in a major way.”

From Ruy Teixeira’s post, “Can We Please Stop Saying Trump’s Base Is Immovable?” at The Optimistic Leftist:”Sure, Trump’s approval rating is still pretty high among Republicans and people who voted for him in 2016, but for chrissake what do people expect? This is a  polarized country; he’s not going to suddenly have a 30 percent approval rating among partisans of his own party…But he is losing ground. He is losing support among the very kind of voters you would describe as his base and that’s very important. He (and the GOP) need every vote they can get and when solid supporters start drifting off that’s very bad for them…Data from a recent Pew release show this drift very clearly. Since February, he’s lost 8 points in approval among Republican identifiers/leaners (from 84 to 76 percent), 17 points among white evangelical Protestants (from 78 to 61 percent) and 10 points among white noncollege voters (from 56 to 46 percent)…He’s a weak president and getting weaker, including among his own supporters.”

Minnesota’s Lt. Governor Tina Smith is aparently the front-runner to fiull Sen. Franken’s seat, reports Ella Nilsen at Vox. But there is a problem, as Nilsen explains: “Minnesota law says that if the lieutenant governor leaves office, the position will automatically be assumed by the president of the state Senate…Right now, the Minnesota state Senate president is Republican Michelle Fischbach, and the possibility she could become Dayton’s second-in-command is sure to be a huge consideration for the governor as he makes his choice. Fischbach’s possible ascendance, combined with Dayton’s own health problems (the governor revealed he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year), are two reasons Minnesota Democrats have to be nervous about the possibility of Smith going to Washington.” Further, adds Nilsen, “She [Smith] is seen as a placeholder – someone who has no interest in running for Franken’s seat in 2018, clearing the field for an open race in November.” Nilsen writes that other contenders for Franken’s seat may include MN Reps. Tim Walz and Keith Ellison.

“Ultimately, we’ll need to see which candidates both Democrats and Republicans run in Minnesota to fully grasp each side’s chances,” Harry Enten writes at fivethirtyeifght.com. “Candidate quality still matters in Senate elections (see Alabama 2017). If Democrats can select a candidate who is able to separate her- or himself from Franken’s brand, she or he will probably have a better shot than a generic Democrat. On the other hand, if the Republicans choose a strong candidate, she or he may be able to capitalize on residual anger against Franken, whose approval rating plummeted following the allegations made against him…For now, the most we can say is that the 2018 Minnesota Senate race leans Democratic, but Republicans have a real shot.”

Politico’s David Sider writes that “Democrats scour map for sleeper races: To expand House playing field, party officials bet on long-shot districts,” and notes, “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee quickly added 11 more Republican-held districts — long-shot seats that aren’t typically in play — to its existing list of 80 targeted races. Candidates in those newly added seats got a sudden dose of fundraising and organizational assistance, in addition to help with budgeting and media operations…The incumbent Republicans in those seats, some of them unaccustomed to vigorous challenges, are already feeling the squeeze.”

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