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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Vivian Yee explains why “Democrats Hope an Asian Influx Will Help Turn Orange County Blue” at The New York Times: “Though they have gravitated toward the left ever since the 1990s, they are fractured. According to a national survey of Asian-Americans conducted after the 2016 election, Indian- and Korean-Americans tack progressive, Chinese- and Vietnamese-Americans more conservative. While Asians registered as Republicans in Orange County outnumber Asian Democrats, more than one-third of Asian voters identify as independents…And though they tend to hold liberal views on issues like gun control, climate change and public spending, the political causes that some Asian-Americans have rallied around in recent years have veered conservative. Organizing on the social media platform WeChat, Chinese immigrants mobilized in 2014 to kill legislation that would have resurrected affirmative action at California universities…Even so, many Asians oppose the Trump administration’s makeover of the immigration system, and their votes evince a broader discomfort with the president. Orange County Asians re-elected their Republican congressional representatives, yet tilted toward Mrs. Clinton in 2016.”

So how can it be that the nation’s largest, most progressive state has a “weak bench” of Democratic House candidates? Ronald Brownstein probes the question at The Atlantic, and citing , “a long-term failure by California Democrats to invest in building a network of credible local elected officials…Particularly in Orange County, the epicenter of the competition for House seats in the state, Democrats are confronting what could be called a “resume gap”….While Republicans are fielding an array of candidates who are current or former elected officials, Democrats are relying entirely on first-time contenders who entered their races without any elected experience, existing political networks, or name identification in their districts. That’s making it tougher for any of the Democratic candidates to consolidate support within their party…The lack of experienced candidates “without question poses a big problem to the Democrats,” said Michael Moodian, a political scientist at Chapman College in the city of Orange. “The reason is that for decades the Orange County Republican Party has done a much better job than the Democrats at establishing a farm team of candidates.”

Dems have been warned: “State Websites Are Hackable — And That Could Compromise Election Security,” writes Clare Malone at FiveThirtyEight.com. “After receiving a tip from a small cyber firm called Appsecuri, FiveThirtyEight has confirmed that two states, Alabama and Nevada, had vulnerabilities that left them open to potential compromises of their state web presences….With five months to go until the midterm elections, the subpar preparation of state websites and election systems remains a concern for cybersecurity experts… Officials from both states said the flaws did not have the potential to allow the posting of erroneous vote counts to official pages. But outside experts suggested that there’s still reason to be concerned…“A lot of these vulnerabilities are easily classified as a cosmetic error until someone thinks through how they can be used for other purposes,” said Harri Hursti, a cybersecurity expert with a focus in election security. A hacker’s attack may seem minor now, but it could grow into a bigger, more urgent problem come Election Day.”

Attention all Democratic candidates and campaign workers in states and communities with substantial Puerto Rican populations: Read Alvin Chang’s Vox post, “How the media ignored Puerto Rico, in one chart,” which notes “This week, we learned that Hurricane Maria may be the deadliest natural disaster on US soil in the past 100 years, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study found that most of the estimated 4,600 deaths were because of delayed medical care…But on cable news, the top story by a wide margin was ABC canceling Roseanne after a racist tweet from its star, Roseanne Barr. In the New York Times, Roseanne was on the front page and Puerto Rico was on A13…This was yet another example of the media putting the Puerto Rico story on the back burner — something it’s been doing for a long time now. We analyzed the amount of airtime the major cable news networks devoted to Puerto Rico and found that after the first month, coverage has been virtually nonexistent.” The twin targets of negligent Republicans and twisted media priorities are begging to be blasted, and Democrats should not hesitate to bring it.

Nowhere is this more true than in the Sunshine State. As Stephanie Griffith reports in “As Puerto Ricans’ numbers grow in Florida, Hurricane Maria becomes pivotal campaign issue: “We’re a highly motivated vote, because Trump and the Republican Congress failed Puerto Rico” at ThinkProgress: “The Pew Research Center found that the number of Puerto Ricans in Florida has increased from around half a million in 2000 to more than a million in 2014...“We’re a highly motivated vote, because Trump and the Republican Congress failed the island,” U.S. Representative Darren Soto (D-FL) told ThinkProgress in an interview at his office on Capitol Hill…Soto said the Orlando community had already seen an influx of thousands of people each month fleeing a brutal recession on the island. The hurricane only accelerated the exodus…“In a state where the last several presidential and gubernatorial elections have been decided by less than one point, any changes can make a big difference. This is a state where Obama won twice by one point and Trump won by one point,” the Democrat said.”

The next time your crazy conservative uncle starts railing against “big government” meddling in health care, you can quote from “It Saves Lives. It Can Save Money. So Why Aren’t We Spending More on Public Health? Funding for health campaigns is surprisingly low when you consider they’re often so valuable that they pay for themselves” by Aaron E. Carroll and Austin Frakt at The Upshot. For example, Carroll and Frakt note that “A 2017 systematic review published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health looked at studies that calculated the return on investment for public health interventions. The researchers identified 52 studies that looked at interventions at a local or national level…Health protection interventions, which would include vaccinations, have saved $34 for every $1 spent on them, according to the review. But not every vaccine has a positive return. For example, in years for which the flu vaccine is a poor match for the actual influenza types that are circulating, the return on investment can be as low as -21, meaning that it costs $21 to save $1…In years for which the vaccine matches the disease well, the return on investment can be as high as 174. Such a high return occurs because of all the disease and death prevented.”

In his review article, “Ratfucked Again,” at The New York Review of Books, Michael Tomasky illuminates the political opportunity — and dangers — provided by the upcoming census and the role of the midterm elections in the outcome: “…As the next census approaches, state executive mansions and legislatures are at least as important, as liberals have belatedly come to realize. The Democrats actually have two election cycles to see how much ground they can regain here, as new district lines won’t be drawn until after the 2020 election results are in. The party that wins the right to draw the legislative maps of the 2020s will have enormous power to shape future Congresses and state legislatures—to determine, for example, whether districts are drawn in such a way that Republicans need only worry about winning conservative votes and Democrats liberal ones, or in a way that might push candidates toward the center; and whether districts comply with the Voting Rights Act, in a decade when much demographic change is expected, enough to perhaps turn the crucial state of Texas at least purple, if not blue. Much is at stake.”

“This coming Tuesday nearly 100 women will be on the ballot in congressional primaries…Women make up 23 percent of nonincumbents running for congressional seats in 2018 compared to 16 percent in the previous two cycles. In addition, nearly 80 percent of those women have been Democrats…Among all women nonincumbent candidates who have run so far, 47.55 percent have either won their race outright or advanced to a runoff. Only 23 percent of male candidates have kept up, as the table below indicates. — From “The pink wave makes herstory: Women candidates in the 2018 midterm elections” by Elaine Kamarck, Alexander R. Podkul, and Nicholas W. Zeppos at Brookings.

Check out Roll Call’s handy, color-coded, roll-over 2018 Election Guide, featuring projected outcome data on every congressional district, U.S. Senate seat and Governorship.

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    Puerto Ricans are not registered to vote in Florida. Hillary’s loss of Florida should have made this clear.

    Re: weak bench…this describes the Democratic party in most blue states. One party rule leads to candidates who are not used to vigorous campaigning.

  2. Martin Lawford on

    If you read the article in the New England Journal of Medicine closely, you will notice that what they really said was that they can state with a 95% degree of confidence that the death toll ranged from 783 to 8,498. When the maximum of an estimate is over times greater than its minimum, you really haven’t narrowed the estimate much. That “estimated” 4,600 deaths is just the middle of an extremely wide range. They know that at least 800 people died in the hurricane but no more than 8,500, a highly vague result.


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