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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Here’s a problem Democrats should address, soon.”…In a new Pew generic congressional ballot question posed to a large sample of registered voters, women under the age of 35 tilt Democratic by a 68/24 margin, while men under the age of 35 prefer Republicans by a 50/47 margin,” writes Ed Kilgore at New York Magzine. “That’s a 21-point gender gap in the Democratic percentage, and a 26-point gender gap in the Republican percentage. Meanwhile, there’s a smaller gender gap among voters aged 35–49, and barely one at all among voters over 50…These are pretty astonishing numbers, reflecting a trend that’s been under way for a while. And it suggests pretty clearly that odds of a Democratic wave in the 2018 midterm rest heavily on a strong turnout from young women, who are rejecting Trump and his party by near-historic margins. Meanwhile Democrats have some missionary work to do with young men. Given the high percentage of them who are from minority groups that lean strongly Democratic (some 44 percent of millennials are from minorities), you have to figure there’s some MAGA mojo going on to lift Trump and the GOP to such a strong position.”

At The Guardian, columnist Cass Mudde writes that “it may take liberals by surprise to hear that a recent Reuters/Ipsos mega poll of 16,000 respondents, found that the Democrats are losing ground with millennials. While millennials still prefer the Democratic party over the Republicans, that support is tanking. In just two years, it dropped sharply from 55% to 46%. Meanwhile, their support for Republicans has remained roughly stable in the past two years, falling from 28% to 27%…The trend is not universal among millennials, however. Reflecting developments within the broader population, there are strong gender and racial differences. The drop in Democratic support among white millennials is roughly the same (8%), but most of the defectors in that group seem to have moved to the Republicans (6%)…Today, as many white millennials support the Democrats as the Republicans (each 39%). Just two years ago, Democrats still had a 14% lead over Republicans among white millennials. The trends are even more pronounced among white male millennials. Today, this group favors the Republicans over the Democrats by a staggering 11%. In 2016, Democrats led white male millennials by 12%.”

Mudde continues, “As far as the Democrats are relevant to the US political debate these days, they have largely focused on relatively “fringe” issues that many millennials don’t care much about. For example, millennials seem much less concernedabout Russian meddling in US elections than the rest of the Democratic party elite. Even the newest golden issue, gun control, seems much more a post-millennial than millennial issue. A recent poll found that millennials are no more liberal on gun control than previous generations…Just as the Republicans have blended their socio-economic and socio-cultural agendas, linking economic anxiety and cultural backlash, Democrats should link key concerns of millennials, especially economic inequality and cultural openness. This does not mean more, mostly symbolic “identity politics”, but integrating identity into a broader agenda of economic, environmental and social justice – staples of true progressive politics…This is perfectly in sync with the priorities of millennials, irrespective of race, who support governmental protection of the environment and for whom key economic priorities are increasing job opportunities, increasing wages and decreasing economic inequality. The way to stop support for Democrats among millennials from sinking further is to speak to those needs in a meaningful way. The longer they fail to do that, the more lethal it becomes.”

So, what could Democrats do to address the gender gap among voters who are under the age of 35? The no-brainer part of the answer has to be investing in a higher turnout of young Black men in key  ‘purple’ districts and winnable statewide races. With respect to ad strategy, Dems should launch a campaign focusing on this demographic group, featuring TV, radio, internet and cell phone ads with national and local African American leaders in politics (Obama), faith, entertainment, sports and other fields. Ditto for young Latino males. The tougher challenge is reaching persuadable young white males, with ads that show what they have to lose if Republicans hold the House, and what they have to gain if Dems win a House majority. Of course, ads are only one strategic consideration. There should also be stronger voter registration and GOTV programs that intensify in each state when early voting begins. Here’s a state-by-state guide to voter registration deadlines, and here’s a guide to early voting in the 50 states.

In Stanley Greenberg’s article, “The Broad Support for Taxing the Wealthy: Why Democrats should run on rolling back the tax cut and raising taxes on the rich” at The American Prospect, he writes, “Am I really recommending that we run in 2018 on raising taxes? Yes. We will raise taxes on the rich. Count on it. Voters view that as the most important thing we can do to reverse the Republicans’ corrupt course. Three-quarters of voters want to reverse the tax cuts or raise taxes on the rich to invest in or help the middle class, according to a June survey…And critically, a candidate who makes this statement—“I want to be very clear: Their huge tax giveaway is wrong and I will vote to put back higher taxes on the richest so we can invest in education and make health care more affordable”—increases opposition to the tax cut and pushes up the Democratic vote and engagement…Does anybody remember that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ran their elections and re-elections promising to raise taxes on the rich?..For the base of progressive voters and for most swing voters, conversely, the 2017 Republican Tax Act is the ugliest and most deceptive face of trickle-down yet, a corrupt deal that will do nothing for working people who face rising costs. It threatens Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, and health-care investments.”

Pulitzer Prize-winner Sonia Nazario provides a thoughtful take the immigration debate, which Democratic campaigns may find useful, in her New York Times op-ed, “There’s a Better, Cheaper Way to Handle Immigration.” Nazario writes, “The family case management program, a pilot started in January 2016, allowed families seeking asylum to be released together and monitored by caseworkers while their immigration court cases proceeded. Case managers provided asylum seekers with referrals for education, legal services and housing. They also helped sort out confusing orders about when to show up for immigration court and ICE check-ins. And they emphasized the importance of showing up to all court hearings, which can stretch over two or three years…The pilot was implemented with around 700 families in five metropolitan areas, including New York and Los Angeles, and it was a huge success. About 99 percent of immigrants showed up for their hearings…It also did something Republicans love: It cut government spending. The program cost $36 per day per family, compared with the more than $900 a day it costs to lock up an immigrant parent with two children, said Katharina Obser, a policy adviser at the Women’s Refugee Commission.”

Alexia Fernandez Campbell agrees in her Vox post, “Trump doesn’t need to put families in detention centers to enforce his immigration policy. There are better options: Community supervision and electronic monitoring are two alternatives that the government has used instead.” Campbell explains: “One alternative is to release immigrants under community supervision, in which a non-profit group or government contractor provides families with social workers, who help them find housing and transportation, and who make sure they attend court hearings and comply with the law…Another alternative is to release immigrants with electronic monitoring, which generally involves placing GPS ankle monitors on the parents and assigning them case workers…Up until recently, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was running two such programs at the national level: the Intensive Supervision Alternative Program (ISAP), which involves electronic monitoring, and the less restrictive Family Case Management Program (FCMP), which relied on community monitoring. The methods used in these programs are available to DHS, and are much cheaper than traditional detention — but the Trump administration is choosing to keep families behind bars instead.”

E. J. Dionne, Jr. has another keeper column that illuminates the damge Republicans are doing to vulnerable Americans. Among Dionne’s insights: “In principle, reorganizing the federal government and finding ways to make it more efficient are actually reasonable objectives. There are good arguments for rethinking a structure built by accretion over decades. But as is its way, the Trump administration poisoned this effort from the start. It failed to engage in serious conversation with stakeholders (or the opposition party), and it put its ideological goals first…The family-separation policy dramatized in an especially egregious way the routine cruelty of this administration. It highlighted an approach that targets those who have the fewest resources to defend their interests and their rights. The fight against callousness must be extended across a much broader front.”

Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson’s “We’re going to lose this trade war” sees Trump’s trade policy as a disaster in the making. As Samuelson explains, “If we are to have a “trade war” with China, it would be best to win it. We should be better off after the fighting. Unfortunately, the chances of this happening seem slim to none, because President Trump’s plan of attack suggests that everyone — us and them — will lose…Frustrated by U.S. technological restrictions, China could turn to other advanced countries — Japan, Germany, Canada, South Korea, France — for similar technologies. We do not hold a monopoly on advanced technologies. To be effective, we need a global coalition that will cooperate in curbing abuses. (Most routine technologies, it’s worth noting, should be available on normal commercial terms.)..The trouble is that Trump’s bombastic assaults against our traditional trading partners — and military allies — virtually guarantee that the essential cooperation will be difficult, if not impossible, to attain. “Trump’s focus on the trade deficit is causing specific harms to American national security, including the distortion of U.S. [foreign] alliance relationships and loss of leverage against China,” wrote Derek Scissors of the conservative American Enterprise Institute…Trump’s bombastic assaults against our traditional trading partners — and military allies — virtually guarantee that the essential cooperation will be difficult, if not impossible, to attain. “Trump’s focus on the trade deficit is causing specific harms to American national security, including the distortion of U.S. [foreign] alliance relationships and loss of leverage against China,” wrote Derek Scissors of the conservative American Enterprise Institute…But whatever Congress and Trump do won’t be effective unless it’s matched by other major trading countries. Trump either doesn’t realize this or doesn’t care. He’s infuriating the very countries whose support he desperately needs. His policies are more than misguided; they’re backward.”

3 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Victor on

    With the way things are going Democrats should be polling above 50% consistently, but activists and the party leadership (for completely different reasons) seem on the footsteps of Hillary’s clinching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Democrats can’t be the party of “Trump fail”.

    There are ways to distinguish unbridled nationalism from lack of patriotism and faith in America. Democrats are failing at making this distinction.

    What is up with the articles basically pinning for trade and nuclear negotiations to fail?

    The Guardian article describes what most voters, not only millennials, want. What is being delivered by Democrats? Non-stop outrage and cynicism. White and Hispanic voters notice.

    Hispanic voters will notice that Democrats are again failing in taking the initiative on at the very least talking about comprehensive immigration reform that goes beyond cynical DACA citizenship.

    The issue with non-detention alternatives of supervision is that they act as an important pull factor in driving further applications, making the asylum system a joke for conservatives/moderates and not a particularly humane/efficient solution for migrants. Electronic supervision is problematic in its own very particular ways.

  2. Martin Lawford on

    “Does anybody remember that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ran their elections and re-elections promising to raise taxes on the rich?” Yes, I do, and I also remember that both of them immediately lost control of the House of Representatives in the next off-year election. In 1994, the Democrats lost 54 seats and in 2010 they lost 63.

    • Watcher on

      Democrats did a poor job of highlighting that the increases really only affected the top. I heard no coherent response in 1994 when the GOP called Clinton’s plan “the largest tax increase in history”. Obama initially seemed to understand the need for the right framing but didn’t keep the message up (and at the same volume) as his critics. The result was an electorate who didn’t realize most of their taxes went down in 2010.


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