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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Dan Merica reports at CNN Politics that “Red-state Democrats running for Senate in 2018 cautiously backed President Donald Trump’s decision to approve targeted strikes in Syria. But now that the strikes have happened,almost all are urging the President to make his future plans in Syria clear and come to Congress for approval…The Democratic support ranges from full-throated endorsements to tepid backing, but most Democrats running for the Senate in 2018 for now back the strikes…In a statement, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown described the strikes as a “targeted and proportional response to the Assad regime’s gruesome attacks on civilians, and it’s important that our allies in Britain and France were part of this process.”…But he added that Trump now must “present a long-term strategy to the American people, and he must win their support before taking further military action.”

At FiveThirtyEight, Perry Bacon, Jr. and Dhrumil Mehta note that “Americans are split on whether or not the U.S. has a responsibility to get involved in the conflict in Syria, according to a YouGov/Economist poll, but they are not split along party lines. Twenty-eight believe that the U.S. has a responsibility to get involved (including 36 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of Republicans), while 37 percent believe the U.S. does not have that responsibility and 35 percent are not sure.”

In their article, “Democrats’ Chances Of Winning The Senate Are Looking Stronger,” Bacon and Mehta also note that “For some time, the conventional wisdom (and I largely agree with it) around the upcoming midterms has been that Democrats are modest favorites to win the House, while Republicans are likely to hold the Senate. Democrats, who have 49 Senate seats at the moment,1 might win GOP-held seats in Arizona and Nevada, but it seems likely they’ll lose at least one of the 10 seats they hold in states that President Trump carried in 2016…But the 2018 Senate map is shifting — mostly in ways that make it more likely that Democrats could flip that chamber too. If you’ve only been paying attention to the House, it’s time to check back in on the upper chamber…So Democratic prospects are looking better in Tennessee, Arizona and Texas. There is one race, though, where the outlook seems to be improving for the GOP: Florida…Florida is about evenly divided between the two parties, so this was always going to be a close race, and polls have suggested Nelson and Scott are running neck and neck.”

“Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victories in November,” Dan Balz and Scott Clement write at Thw Washington Post. “The poll finds that the gap between support for Democratic vs. Republican House candidates dropped by more than half since the beginning of the year. At the same time, there has been a slight increase in President Trump’s approval rating, although it remains low. Measures of partisan enthusiasm paint a more mixed picture of the electorate in comparison to signs of Democratic intensity displayed in many recent special elections…With the Republicans’ House majority at risk, 47 percent of registered voters say they prefer the Democratic candidate in their district, while 43 percent favor the Republican. That four-point margin compares with a 12-point advantage Democrats held in January. Among a broader group of voting-age adults, the Democrats’ margin is 10 points, 50 percent to 40 percent…The survey shows the GOP making a more pronounced shift among white voters, who now prefer Republicans by a 14-point margin over Democrats, up from five points in January. Republicans lead by 60 percent to 31 percent among white voters without college degrees, slightly larger than an 18-point GOP advantage three months ago.” However, add Balz and Clement, “The situation in the districts where control of the House is likely to be decided is slightly more favorable for Democrats. The Cook Political Report, which produces nonpartisan analysis, lists 56 of the 435 congressional districts as competitive — 51 of them in Republican hands to just five held by Democrats.”

new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicates that “Democrats enjoy a 7-point advantage in congressional preference, with 47 percent of voters wanting a Democratic-controlled Congress, and with 40 percent preferring a GOP-controlled Congress,” reports Mark Murray at nbcnews.com. However, “the poll doesn’t show “knockout numbers” for Democrats, which gives Republicans a chance of retaining control of Congress, says Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart and his team at Hart Research Associates…But the current poll shows Democrats with a significant advantage in enthusiasm, with 66 percent of Democrats expressing a high level of interest (either a “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale) in November’s elections, versus 49 percent for Republicans…40 percent of voters in the poll said their 2018 vote in November would be a message that more Democrats are needed to check and balance Trump and congressional Republicans. That’s compared with 28 percent who said their vote would be a message that more Republicans are needed to help Trump and the GOP pass their agenda…Twenty-nine percent of voters said their 2018 vote would be a different message than the other two options.”

In his article, “Liberal Groups to Spend $30 Million Targeting Infrequent U.S. Voters” at Bloomberg News, John McCormick shares some good news: “Democrats trying to win control of Congress in 2018 will get a $30 million boost from Planned Parenthood’s political arm and other liberal groups working to mobilize infrequent voters favorable to their cause…Planned Parenthood Votes and three other organizations say they’re committed to spending that much to target people who who might cast ballots in presidential elections but tend to skip off-year ballots like the November congressional midterms…The investment seeks to change the electorate’s composition in three states expected to have close House and Senate contests — Nevada, Florida and Michigan — by encouraging more minorities, women and those younger than 35 to vote…Roughly half of the people the groups want to reach are in Florida, where Republican Governor Rick Scott is challenging Democratic Senator Bill Nelson in what’s expected to be one of the most expensive races in the U.S. this year. The work will be concentrated in South Florida and in the Orlando and Tampa areas, according to the groups.”

In case you were wondering, Paige Winfield Cunningham explains why “Why Republicans don’t talk about repealing Obamacare anymore” at WaPo’s The Health 202: “Republican candidates and others across the country find themselves bereft of what was once their favorite talking point: repealing and replacing President Obama’s Affordable Care Act — and all the havoc they alleged it wreakedThat’s because the GOP failed dramatically in its efforts last year to roll back the ACA as its first big legislative delivery on the promise of single-party control of Washington from Congress to the White House. That defeat has quickly turned attacks on Obamacare from centerpiece into pariah on the campaign trail, a sudden disappearing act that Democrats are looking to exploit as they seek to regain power in the midterms…“Yeah, we probably can’t talk credibly about repeal and replace anymore,” Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) told me a few weeks ago…since the dramatic defeat of an ACA rollback bill in the Senate last July, many Republican candidates don’t have much to say about health care at alInstead, if they do talk about health care on the campaign trail, it is only to say they have been able to change pieces of Obamacare — repealing the individual mandate as part of their 2017 tax overhaul, for instance, and the Trump administration’s push to allow plans to be sold that fall short of ACA standards…A problem for the GOP is that a majority of the public wants to move toward more government control of health care. A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Friday found 51 percent of all Americans, including 54 percent of independents, support a national health plan.” Put simply, smarter Republicans don’t mention their ‘repeal Obamacare’ fiasco much anymore because it reminds voters of their incompetence, even with majorities of all branches of government.

Max Boot has a well-stated point Democrat candidates campaigning to win moderate voters may find useful in his “Paul Ryan’s pathetic legacy” column: “The GOP tax bill is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to add $1.9 trillion to the debt. Add in nearly $300 billion in additional spending over the next two years passed by Congress in March, and you’re looking at trillion-dollar annual deficits as far as the eye can see. There will be no entitlement reform, because Trump — “the king of debt” — couldn’t care less. So much for Ryan’s reputation as a fiscal conservative.” Leading up to the midterms, Ryan can still serve nicely, along with Trump and McConnell, as a poster-boy for the GOP’s inability to govern effectively.

Joan McCarter elaborates at Daily Kos: “Republicans have precisely one legislative accomplishment to run on in 2018: their tax cut scam. Normally, that would work. Normally, their tea party base would be so thrilled over it that they’d skate through November. But nothing is normal anymore, and too many people understand that the tax cuts passed have nothing to do with them, and in fact undermines the thing that they really do care about—health care. That means Republicans are having a hard time making this one thing they’ve accomplished work for them…These very tax cuts also got rid of the individual mandate for the Affordable Care Act, and that will result in higher premiums for health insurance on the individual market. Those premium increases are going to be announced in October, weeks before the election, and will dominate headlines. For plenty of people, the bit more they see in their paychecks could be dwarfed by insurance premium hikes…It doesn’t help at all that what’s dominating the headlines now when it comes to the tax cuts is how much it has helped big banks and corporate stock-holders. It also doesn’t help that the occupier of the Oval Office would rather talk about his racist delusions than “boring” tax law, even during an event held specifically to tout that very law.”

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