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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At The New York Times, Michael Tackett and Rachel Shorey report some good news in their article, “Young People Keep Marching After Parkland, This Time to Register to Vote.” As Tackett and Shorey note “Voter data for March and April show that young registrants represented a higher portion of new voters in Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, among other states. In Florida, voters under 26 jumped from less than 20 percent of new registrants in January and February to nearly 30 percent by March, the month of the gun control rallies. That ticked down to about 25 percent in April, as the demonstrations subsided, but registration of young voters remained above the pace set before 17 students and faculty were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland…In North Carolina, voters under 25 represented around 30 percent of new registrations in January and February; in March and April, they were around 40 percent…In Pennsylvania, voter registrations across age groups increased sharply in March and April before the primary last week, but registrations of young voters increased the fastest, jumping to 45 percent in March and more than half in April, from fewer than 40 percent of voters in January and February.”

And who are these young voters supporting? Shorey and Tackett explain: “And those new registrants lean Democratic. Of the new voters ages 25 and under in the state, a third registered as Democrats; 21 percent signed up as Republicans; and 46 percent registered as either unaffiliated or with another political party. For new registrants over 25, 27 percent were Democrats; 29 percent were Republicans; and 44 percent were independent or affiliated with a different party…In addition to the registration figures, new polling of younger voters from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics found a significant jump from two years ago in those who say their involvement will make a difference. Such optimism indicates a voter is more likely to actually turn out…So far, the Harvard polling indicates that Democrats are the more likely beneficiary of the increased commitment to voting, with half of voters 18 to 29 saying they will vote Democratic. The remainder are divided between Republicans and independents.”

At New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore explains why “The Democratic Wave May Depend on Millennials Becoming Unusually Motivated to Vote.” Kilgore quotes Ronald Brownstein, who observes, “No more than about a quarter of eligible adults younger than age 30 have voted in any of the past five midterm elections. In 2010, voters under 30 represented just 12 percent of all voters, exit polls found, down from 18 percent in 2008. The share of ballots cast by voters under 30 likewise skidded from 19 percent in 2012 to 13 percent in 2014…Recent polling offers ominous signs for Democrats that this pattern of demobilization could persist in 2018… Stanley Greenberg, the veteran Democratic pollster, told me there’s a “very real risk” that Millennial turnout could lag again in 2018.” Kilgore adds, “after all, Barack Obama’s strong popularity among young voters exhibited itself as a powerful force in 2008 and 2012 — but not in the 2010 and 2014 midterms…It’s entirely possible that Democrats can overcome a recurrence of the “midterm falloff” among young voters by gains elsewhere in the electorate, most notably the college-educated suburbanites who have contributed to Democratic over-performance in off-year elections from Virginia to Arizona. But even modest improvements in millennial turnout could work wonders, given the large lean toward Democrats in that demographic (a net 27 points in the same Pew survey that showed desultory millennial interest in the election)…Democrats are almost certainly going to make gains in November, but nothing would reduce the magnitude more than unsuccessful efforts to mobilize millennials that do succeed in terrifying old white folks. They can take comfort, however, in the fact that, all in all, the most terrifying force in American politics resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That may be just enough to rouse young people from their apolitical prejudices and get them to the polls in November.”

The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin probes a question of growing concern for Democrats: “Will the Fervor for Impeachment Start a Democratic Civil War? A push to remove Donald Trump from office may lead to disaster in the midterms.” Toobin quotes Jamie Raskin, a first-term Democrat from Maryland and vice-chair of the Judiciary Committee: “It’s hard to think of a more impeachable President in American history…By firing Comey and waging war on the special counsel, Trump has become the master of obstructing justice…I have a thick notebook of obstruction-of-justice episodes…It’s only because we’re waist-deep in the Trump era that we forget how completely radical and beyond the pale it is to have the President directly threatening the people who are involved in a criminal investigation of him.” All of Trump’s utterly impeachable offenses notwithstanding, a premature focus on impeachment could be a disaster for Democrats. But the more worrisome question is, will Trump’s reckless corruption eventually leave the Democrats no other option? I have trouble imagining that not happening. At a certain point, Democrats could look bad for dodging impeachment and shirking their constitutional responsibility. Timing is everything.

Democrats ramp up efforts to turn more red seats blue in the South in the wake of recent successes,” reports Deborah Barfield Berry at USAToday. “With midterms less than six months away, national Democrats say they are ramping up their efforts in the South working with the Congressional Black Caucus and local grassroots groups to pick up more seats, even in traditionally red districts…The DCCC and the caucus say the South is key to a Democratic takeoverof the House…The shift in focus comes in the wake of recent Democratic victories in the South, including in Alabama where Doug Jones pulled off an upset in the Senate race last December...“We’re not forfeiting the South like we used to and the party is coming down to help,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “If we’re going to grow, we’re going to grow in the South. This traditional Democratic forfeiting in the South and this traditional Democratic message doesn’t work … We’re forcing them to come and they’re coming…The DCCC already has staff in some competitive districts in Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina and Texas, said Kamau Marshall, the committee’s director of African American Media and deputy national press secretary…But the South remains a difficult landscape for Democrats. In Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, for example, only four out of 23 congressional seats are held by Democrats.”

At Daily Kos, Egberto Willies urges “No need for Democrats to fear their progressive wing: join it, instead,” and shares some thoughts on messaging: “…We must have a simple message at the tip of our tongues, ready to tell constituents what Democrats will do for them…Democrats will fix the health care issue once and for all with a single-payer Medicare for All system…Democrats will provide student loan relief…Democrats will provide need-based subsidized child care for anyone who wants to work…Democrats will decriminalize marijuana and treat drug use as the disease that it is…Democrats will make the criminal justice system live up to the “Justice is Blind” motto….Those five bullet points expressed in different terms will work in every district in America. It appeals to millennials, people of color, all working class people, parents, and every demographic in between. Most importantly these bullet points afford Americans a path to self-sufficiency It frees them from aberrations in the economy that stunts innovation, the inability to start one’s business, and the dependency and the enslavement to the corporation…Every appearance in the media should segue to these points…We need a simple message that appeals quickly, cannot be easily demagogued, and can broaden a base. Politicians who support the five issues listed in bold above are all in with most of the progressive agenda…We must dialogue from a position of strength, and use our sound economic stance and the intrinsic morality of our positions to put all who oppose the progressive tenets Americans say they want on the defensive. Open the windows so America can see exactly who opposes progressivism.”


At CNN Politics Harry Enten notes that “There’s a surprising lack of good polling in this year’s key Senate races,” and observes “Calling balls and strikes is difficult when you’re partially blind…That’s the situation Senate prognosticators are in when it comes to this year’s races. In the early going, there just isn’t a lot of good polling data out there to understand the playing field…Democrats need a net gain of two seats to pick up control of the Senate. CNN rates 11 Senate races as either competitive (i.e. leaning towards one party) or as a toss-up, including 3 Republican-held seats and 8 Democratic held seats. Most of these seats have very little non-partisan polling for them…While a number of key Senate races haven’t been polled at all this cycle, every single competitive race had at least one poll taken in it by this point in the last midterm cycle in 2014…More worrisome is the lack of high quality polling information from these Senate races. Only 2 (Florida and Tennessee) of the 11 races (18%) have gold standard polling. That is, pollsters who are non-partisan, use live interviews and call cell phones and are transparent about their data. Only one state (Florida) has had more than one gold standard poll taken in it. In 2014, 67% of competitive races at this point had been polled by gold standard pollsters.”

Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, shares “The Democrats’ Drive for 25 in the House: An Update,” and notes: “Overall, the Democrats’ odds in the districts mentioned have largely but not universally gotten a little better…The California primary on June 5 looms as the most important date in the battle for the House between now and the November election…The Democrats’ odds of retaking the House majority remain about 50-50… there is still a possibility that Democrats won’t just win the House, but win it easily. The range of possible outcomes still seems wide…Some district-level indicators are a little brighter for Democrats since we first described this narrow path to a Democratic House majority…One thing that’s clear in comparing the Democrats’ current path to a House majority versus the one we sketched out in February is that the playing field is bigger. Back in February, we listed 65 GOP House seats in a competitive (non-Safe) category. We now list 86. Many of these races likely will not develop (particular in the Likely Republican column, where we list 35 GOP districts). On the other hand, some current Safe Republican races may enter the fray, too.”

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