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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Read David Daley’s salon.com article, “How the Republicans rigged Congress — new documents reveal an untold story,” for one of the best accounts of the GOP’s “years-long scheme to gerrymander America and undermine democracy.” It’s a lurid tale of Republican lust for political leverage, empowered by Democratic distraction, apathy and incompetence. In one graph, Daley deftly encapsulates the challenge Democrats face: “If there is to be a blue wave in 2018, it will need to overcome a red seawall that was exactingly designed beginning a decade ago and has proven impermeable in state after state ever since. Even in Virginia last November, Democrats won nearly a quarter of a million more votes than Republicans — and it still wasn’t enough to overcome district lines rigged to guarantee the GOP a built-in advantage. In Alabama, where Doug Jones recently became the first Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in decades, disgraced GOP candidate Roy Moore still carried six of the state’s seven gerrymandered congressional districts.”

From “Russians penetrated U.S. voter systems, top U.S. official says” by Cynthia McFadden, William M. Arkin and Kevin Moynihan

So what will be the net political impact of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s 8 hour filibuster yesterday in support of the Dreamers? The knee-jerk response is it will hurt Democrats because it gives GOP propagandists fodder for portraying Democrats as obstructionist – the old ‘acuse your enemy of your worst sin’ routine. On the flip side, Pelosi’s filibuster, perhaps the longest in the House since 1909, demonstrates Democratic commitment to protect immigrants the GOP’s draconian policies toward them. This could help the Democrats gain credibility with Latino voters in key districts. Pelosi-bashing may not provide much value added for Republicans in terms of midterm votes, since most Pelosi-haters are already hard-core Repubicans.

But that won’t stop Republicans from launching a tsunami of Pelosi-bashing, as David Weigel writes in “Attack ads in Pennsylvania find a theme: Pelosi, Pelosi and more Pelosi” at PowerPost: “The Republican effort to turn House races into referendums on Nancy Pelosi will continue today, when the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, begins the fourth TV ad buy in Pennsylvania’s 18th District. As in a previous spot from CLF, a spot from the Ending Spending super PAC, and one from the National Republican Congressional Committee, Democratic nominee Conor Lamb is linked with Pelosi and her warnings about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.”

At The New York Times, Alexander Burns has an update on The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which was formed last year under the leadership of former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. As Burns explains, Holder and his associates in the project have “settled on a strategy to contest a combination of governorships, legislative seats and more obscure state offices to chip away at Republicans’ sweeping control of the redistricting process…the group was chiefly determined to deny Republicans so-called trifectas in state governments — places where a single party controls the governorship and an entire legislature, as Republicans do in Ohio and Florida, among other critical battlegrounds…States at the top of the just-finalized target list include traditional purple states like Michigan and Wisconsin, where Republicans can currently design maps without Democratic input, and others — including Colorado, Minnesota and Nevada — where Democrats have significant influence in government but must defend it in the 2018 elections.”

In his Washington Post op-ed, “Democrats should wise up to Trump’s cons,” Demoratic consultant Carter Eskew has some salient advice for Democrats: “…Try remembering that Trump is a con man, always running several cons at once. In less than a week, Trump has launched three on Democrats alone: the Nunes memo; the lawyers-telling-him-not-to-testify story; and last night’s accusation that Democrats who didn’t clap for him during the State of the Union address are traitors. All are designed to make Democrats crazy, overreact and lose the upper hand. Democrats need to remember this is what con artists do. In the words of young-adult fiction writer Leigh Bardugo, “The easiest way to steal a man’s wallet is to tell him you’re going to steal his watch.”

There’s some good news for Dems tucked in the Daily 202 post “Improving poll numbers give Republicans hope that the midterms might not be so bad.” As James Hohman notes, “Meredith Kelly, the communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said her team focuses less on the ups and downs of national surveys than fielding top-flight candidates who can defeat GOP incumbents…Equally important, if not more important, [than the generic ballot] is that our district-specific data is really bad for Republicans,” she said. “We already have several district-specific polls that show the named Republican losing to the named challenger right off the bat. There’s another category where the named incumbent is winning right now in a head-to-head, but only earns in the mid to low 40s — a weak starting off point. There are other Democrats starting well behind the Republican, but even in those races, we have a lot of time and data that shows a lot of room for growth for the Democrats, who start out much lesser known.”

NYT columnist David Leonhardt makes the case for Republicans who want to restore a little dignity and sanity to their party to vote against their party’s candidates: “I recognize that voting against Republicans is as easy for a progressive to suggest as it is hard for a conservative to execute. But here’s my case to conservatives who do believe in facts and democratic norms (and would rather that Miami stay above water): You are politically homeless right now. Your party has become a destructive force. Its victories — which you may understandably celebrate, like a lower corporate tax rate — don’t make up for the damage the party is doing. And the other party obviously remains too left-wing for you…Your best hope is a sane conservative party. And the only route to a sane conservative party is a string of losses for the current Republican Party.” Today’s GOP, writes Leonhardty, is “doing significantly more damage than good, and there is little prospect that will change until Republican radicalism brings a political price.”

Some new polling data from Ronald Brownstein’s article, “White Women in the Rustbelt Are Turning on Trump” at The Atlantic indicates regarding “white women without a college degree” in the Rustbelt:  “Trump has slipped into a much more precarious position with these women,” notes Brownstein. “No group was more central to Trump’s victory, especially in the Rustbelt states that effectively decided the election. (Trump won at least 56 percent of those women in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, according to exit polls.) However, “Gallup put his 2017 approval with them at 45 percent in Pennsylvania, 42 percent in Michigan, and 39 percent or less in Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Compared to his 2016 vote, his 2017 approval among blue-collar white women in the Rustbelt represented some of his largest declines anywhere—18 percentage points in Ohio and 19 in Wisconsin and Minnesota. That erosion, which intensified during Trump’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, creates the opening for Democrats to contest blue-collar and non-urban House seats this fall through the Midwest and Northeast.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    I think Pelosi is one of the most shrewd politicians in recent history.
    I think she was a great Speaker, better than Obama as President.
    And I think she still makes a good Democratic House Leader.
    But when it comes to messaging she is a liability (great in strategy, mediocre in communication).
    She doesn’t really rally progressives, liberals or moderates.
    But she is effective in firing up Republicans against Democrats.
    It is time for Democrats in the House to begin succession planning.
    I would announce that she doesn’t intend to run for Speaker after 2020.
    In the meantime her title should be Honorary Speaker (Speaker Emerita).
    The Democratic majority leaders and whips team should be reorganized and given explicit tasks to prepare the succession.
    In order to compensate for the loss of this in female representation that team would need to include young women who would be put on a clear path to leadership roles in the House and beyond.


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