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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

A bit of temporary good news for Democrats — and for everyone who doesn’t want to pay more for internet service, as reported in Cecilia Kang’s “Senate Democrats Win Vote on Net Neutrality, a Centerpiece of 2018 Strategy” in The New York Times: “The Senate passed a resolution in a 52-47 vote to overturn a decision last December by the Federal Communications Commission to dismantle Obama-era rules that prevented broadband providers like Verizon and Comcast from blocking or speeding up streams and downloads of web content in exchange for extra fees. The commission’s repeal of net neutrality is set to take effect in a few weeks.” However, “the rare victory for Democrats is sure to be short-lived, with a similar resolution expected to die in the House, where Republicans have a larger majority. Only three Republican senators voted in support of the resolution [Collins, Murkowski and Kennedy]. However, “The effort to stop the repeal of net neutrality rules is part of a broader political strategy by Democrats to rally young voters in the November elections.” Here’s a sharable link for contacting Senators who voted to raise internet fees.

We shouldn’t be surprised that the biggest corporate advocates of destroying Net Neutrality — Verizon, Comcast and AT&T — are also deeply involved in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which provides “template” voter suppression legislation and other Republican-friendly bills for state legislatures. Could a cell phone users campaign to ditch these providers get them to back away from their big bucks opposition to net neutrality and support of voter suppression?

Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Democratic nomination. But it looks increasing like Sen. Bernie Sanders is proving more influential on the future policies of the Democratic Party, as David Weigel and Michael Scherer explain at PowerPost: “Democrats across the board are embracing the policies of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — Medicare for all, legal marijuana and free college — but primary results underscore that the 2016 presidential candidate is struggling to emerge as a kingmaker in the party…While Sanders hasn’t dominated the Democratic Party, his ideas have made huge inroads. “What Bernie’s doing now is seeding what we’re going to do in November,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), one of a handful of congressmen who endorsed Sanders for president. “Even in those districts where somebody’s going to lose, you’ve got to keep people activated. It’s a different kind of trickle-down.”…Sanders-backed candidates are 10 for 21 this election cycle, while 46 of the 134 who had the support of Our Revolution, the group Sanders started after his presidential bid, triumphed. There have been some notable losses, including Tom Perriello in Virginia’s Democratic primary for governor last year and gubernatorial hopeful Dennis Kucinich in Ohio this month, who was backed by Our Revolution but not Sanders.”

From Ed Kilgore’s “Primary Roundup: Big Victories for Women and Progressives” at New York Magazine: “The 2018 primary season ended in four more states on May 15, and, overall, it was one of many that will likely give this cycle a “Year of Women” description, particularly among Democrats. It also was a pretty good day for self-conscious Democratic progressives — and a bad day for those who fear their viability in general elections…In the next two weeks 11 states will hold primaries and another (Texas) will hold runoff elections. The relative calm of May 15 will be replaced by a lot of noise and perhaps some drama.”

In their NYT post “Half of the Women Running in House Primaries Have Won So Far,” Denise Liu and Kate Zernike write, “Record numbers of women are running for Congress. And many are winning: Ten states have had primaries so far, and in those, 60 women have won and 63 have lost…The surge in the number of candidates is mostly among Democrats, and of the 60 candidates who have won so far, 52 are Democrats…Of the 52 Democrats who have won their primaries, 34 are in districts that are considered solid or likely Republican seats in the general election in November, based on the ratings of three nonpartisan organizations.”

In a paragraph focusing on primery results in Pennsylvania, Joan Walsh noted at The Nation, “In Pennsylvania, a state with an all-male House of Representatives delegation, women won the nomination in four of the six races where Democrats are given the best chance of toppling a Republican, and in a couple more districts where victory will be tough, but still possible. In state legislative races, four women backed by the Democratic Socialists of America defeated male incumbents in their Democratic primaries. Three don’t have Republican opponents, meaning they’re almost certainly headed to Harrisburg. More than 100,000 more Democrats than Republicans turned out on primary day.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar put it well, when asked about Democratic midterm strategy focusing on Trump at the Center for American Progress Ideas Conference: “We’re not going to see [continued success] if we spend our whole time bemoaning the fact that he’s there,” Klobuchar said of Trump,” reports Chris Cillizza at CNN Politics. “He’s there. And we have to present an alternative…I promise you, if that is all we do to follow him down every rabbit hole, that is not how we change the country, that is not how we change the well-being.”” There is a strong link between the approval ratings of a sitting President and party performance in the midterms. But candidates should focus their campaigns on their positions on key issues of their constituents, draw contrasts to their opponents, and leave the Trump-bashing to the media and activists. Still, Trump’s mounting scandals may make it difficult for candidates to avoid the topic.

“Liberal anxiety about the fate of the midterms — and I would venture, the country itself — is rising,” writes NYT columnist Charles Blow in his column, “A Blue Wave of Moral Restoration.”To all this, I say: Calm down. Not relax. Not rest easy. Not coast. But stay the course and don’t panic. Work hard, message well and bring your passion — and a few neighbors and friends — to the polls in November…If voters do that, as they have already done in special elections, signs are positive for a major realignment in Washington.” Blow quotes an unamed CNN political analyst: “If past trends hold, it is possible Democrats could see a double-digit swing in the average House district in 2018 compared with past elections…The average swing across all elections has been +13 Democratic, signaling a national political environment is 13 points in the Democrats’ direction.”

Providing flexibility in places to vote  helps to increase voter turnout, as Bartholomew County, Indiana, found out on May 8th, reports local newspaper, The Republic. “The number of early voters who cast ballots this year in Bartholomew County was double the early turnout from four years ago…On Election Day, Bartholomew County could choose from 18 voting centers. Eight were located around Columbus, while others in Hope, Clifford, Taylorsville, Elizabethtown and other geographic areas of the county helped give voters plenty of options to make casting a ballot as easy as possible…Voters could cast a ballot at whichever voting center was most convenient, a much better scenario than when people were limited to a specific precinct during daytime hours when many people have employment obligations.”

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