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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Some factual antidotes to Republican spin that voters want cuts in social and earned benefits from “Trump Is Using “Welfare” Dog Whistles to Come After the Entire Working Class” by Rebecca Vallas at In These Times: “Trump and his colleagues in Congress learned the hard way last year how popular Medicaid is when they tried to cut it as part of their quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And it’s not just Medicaid that Americans don’t want to see cut. Americans overwhelmingly oppose cuts to SNAP, housing assistance, Social Security disability benefits, home heating assistance, and a whole slew of programs that help families get by—particularly if these cuts are to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. What’s more, as polling by the Center for American Progress shows, Americans are less likely to vote for a candidate who backs cuts…By contrast, vast majorities of Americans across party lines want to see their policymakers raise the minimum wage; ensure affordable, high-quality child care; and even enact a job guarantee to ensure everyone who is able and wants to work can find a job with decent wages. These sentiments extend far beyond the Democratic base to include majorities of Independents, Republicans, and even Trump’s own voters.”

At New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore reports that “Another PA GOP Congressman Resigns, Triggering Another Special Election Democrats Likely to Win.” As Kilgore notes, [Republican Rep. Pat] “Meehan’s Seventh Congressional District — the most blatantly gerrymandered of all the Pennsylvania districts — had been atomized in the new map drawn by the state Supreme Court. But his resignation now means Republicans will have to defend it one more time in a special election that is quite likely to produce some more bad vibes and bad headlines for the GOP. The Seventh as currently constitutedwas carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016 and was only narrowly won by Mitt Romney in 2012…Now Meehan, who has been under the cloud of a sexual-harassment scandal, has just resigned as well, after announcing he would pay back $39,000 his office disbursed to a Meehan staffer as part of a settlement he reached with her to head off accusations of improper advances…Democrats think they can pick up as many as six U.S. House seats in November under the new maps.”

There’s not much Democrats can do in planning responses to Trump’s chaotic midterm “strategy,” such as it is, except pay attention and seize opportunities as they arise. Jonathan Martin, Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times sketch Trump’s messy approach to the midterm elections as best they can in their article, “Trump’s Role in Midterm Elections Roils Republicans.” As the authors explain, “Mr. Trump is as impulsive as ever, fixated on personal loyalty, cultivating a winner’s image and privately prodding Republican candidates to demonstrate their affection for him — while complaining bitterly when he campaigns for those who lose. His preoccupation with the ongoing Russia investigation adds to the unpredictability, spurring Mr. Trump to fume aloud in ways that divide the G.O.P. and raising the prospect of legal confrontations amid the campaign…In battleground states like Arizona, Florida and Nevada, Mr. Trump’s proclivity to be a loose cannon could endanger the Republican incumbents and challengers who are already facing ferocious Democratic headwinds.”

In his Washington Post op-ed, “Be progressive, Democrats, not merely liberal,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, writes, “Where conservatives, broadly speaking, consider most forms of government activity excessive, and where the non-progressive left is often content to sand down the rough edges of the status quo, progressives often seek deep systemic reforms. Waiting for a broken power structure to right itself is a recipe for failure. Our recent focus on economic fairness, an approach dismissed as “populism” by conservatives uncomfortable with questions about capitalism’s imperfections, is a case in point…It’s no accident that progressives today are at the forefront of campaigns for a higher minimum wage, for stiffer bank regulations and government anti-monopoly crackdowns, and for single-payer health care, an idea now supported by more than half of Americans after facing years of condescension even from many liberals. If Democrats take nothing else from our moment of self-reflection, we should remember that on issue after issue, what was once pigeonholed as the “progressive” position has since become the popular position, or become law, or both.”

In her article, “Democrats must be strategic, realistic in order for blue wave to reach governor’s office,” Emiliana Almanza Lopez makes the case in The Badger Herald that Wisconsin’s Republican Governor can be beaten in November — If Democrats nominate a centrist. “If Walker wants to win this next election, he must have to appeal to the moderates of the Republican party that he pushed so far away in his time as governor so far. Due to this attempt, it is vital for the Democratic party to elect a candidate in the primaries who can appeal to this voting population…The candidates range in their political stances, but most of the Democratic candidates are running on platforms of fair wages, education and environmental issues. Some of the candidates focus on bridging the political gap between our polarized parties. These are the people to focus on in the upcoming months…By building bridges these candidates draw in the moderates while appealing to those who vote along party lines.”

In Ohio, however, two progressives, former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray and former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, are contending in the race for the Democratic nomination for Governor. As Dylan Scott writes at Vox, “The Buckeye State is one of the most important governor’s races in the country, a test of whether any Democrat not named Sherrod Brown can still win statewide here, and it might also be the most wide open…The Democratic contest could end up being equally eventful and represents something of a family feud within the left: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has taken one side [Cordray], and a Bernie Sanders-aligned group is on the other [Kucinich].”

Can a Tennessee Democrat Pull a Doug Jones?,” asks Steve Cavendish in his NYT op-ed about the TN U.S. Senate race. Cavendish elaborates: “Ms. [Marsha] Blackburn is a Tea Party and Trump stalwart, as are many Tennessee voters. She also represents a type of conservatism that may be peaking in some parts of the South: combative, inflexible and more interested in picking fights than actually governing. An aggregate of recent polls have Mr. Bredesen leading her by 5 percent…Mr. Bredesen spent two terms as governor, from 2003 to 2011, with a pro-business reputation…Even in Middle Tennessee there are some ominous signs for Republicans. In a special election for a State Senate seat in December, a Democrat lost by just 307 votes, in a district Trump carried by more than 50 percentage points.” Retiring Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker has annaounced that he p[lans to vote for Democrat Bredesen.”

The Upshot’s Nate Cohn puts the midterms in updated perspective in his post, “What to Keep in Mind When Thinking About the Midterms: The generic ballot, the president’s approval rating, recent special elections and a seat-by-seat look all point to a modest edge for Democrats.” As Cohn observes, “Over all, the Democrats’ performance in 2018 special congressional elections looks a lot like their showing in open districts in 2006, and well above the average from wave elections in 1994, 2006, 2008 and 2010…The House Republican majority doesn’t look safe in today’s national political environment. As recently as late last year, you could credibly argue that Republicans would be solid favorites if the Democrats led on the generic ballot by seven points. The Republicans have managed to narrow the Democratic advantage to exactly that figure…But after so many retirements and a redrawn map in Pennsylvania,Republicans would seem to be clear underdogs if Democrats won the popular vote by seven points.”

Eric Boehlert reports at Shareblue Media that “In the latest sign of trouble for Republicans, the Cook Political Report officially swapped the status of the Ohio 12th District special election set for August from “lean Republican” to “toss up.” Republicans have controlled the district for more than three decades…Many Democratic officials are viewing “toss up” races this year as being extremely vulnerable for the GOP, since there’s so much electoral momentum on the side of Democrats…“All of the sudden, districts you didn’t think you could win in, you can win in,” Ohio Democratic Party chair David Pepper told CNN this week, while a GOP consultant in the Buckeye state conceded that race will be expensive, and competitive…The special election is being called to fill the vacancy created by Rep. Patrick Tiberi, who resigned suddenly last winter. Tiberi is part of the large wave of GOP resignations and retirements ahead of the 2018 elections.”

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    Democrats need to counter Trump with the welfare marriage penalty and back him up on creating training programs and on not taking benefits away so quickly when people start working.

    The expansion of EITC and child tax credit was debated by Republicans instead of Democrats!! Ivanka has taken up childcare rhetorically!! What is wrong with Democrats in Congress??

    Serious consideration needs to be given to a process of turning non-health related programs into Universal unconditional basic income.

  2. Victor on

    Democrats must be progressive in economic ideas, conciliatory in social divisions, moderate in tone and meticulous in implementation.


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