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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Perry Bacon, Jr. and Oliver Roeder explain “Why Democrats Were Willing To Break The Rules On Kavanaugh Day 3″ at FiveThirtyEight. Here’s one key point from Bacon: “…The Booker-Cornyn run-in, and the “confidential” documents fracas in general, is a good example of why so many scholars are worried about the state of American democracy. The Republicans, in this instance and others,1seem to be prioritizing winning over following bipartisan procedures. In turn, this is driving Democrats to violate norms.”

Ed Kilgore’s “On Kavanaugh, It’s All About Collins and Murkowski, Not the Red-State Democrats” at New York Magazine takes a revealing look at Democratic strategy after the appointment of Republican Jon Kyle to fill McCain’s seat, and notes that “the scenario in which Democrats could go after Collins and Murkowski individually as the “deciding vote” has evaporated. They now must flip both Republicans before any of the red-state Democratic senators matter at all. And that means the moment eitherCollins or Murkowski announces for Kavanaugh, it’s game over…The odds of defeating this confirmation have gone down significantly, not only because Kavanaugh got through his interrogation in the Judiciary Committee without any big revelations, but because Republicans can now afford to lose a senator without losing the vote.” Kilgore writes that of the two Republican moderate conservative enators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, Murkowski is more likely to vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Therefore, “…At present the smart Democratic strategy is to focus with the light and heat of a thousand suns on Susan Collins, who will probably announce her decision on Kavanaugh earlier rather than later. Assuming she wants another term in the Senate in 2020, she may be most concerned about heading off a conservative primary challenge from Maine governor Paul LePage (who is term-limited this year) or someone of his abrasively conservative ilk. That’s why the initiative to crowdfund a Democratic opponent for Collins if she votes for Kavanaugh — which has already raised nearly $900,000 — is a smart move.”

From Dylan Scott’s “The 7 most important moments in Obama’s blistering critique of Trump and the GOP,” a couple of salient points from the Democratic Party’s best communicator, which can be tweaked and leveraged in House and Senate campaigns: “Demagogues promise simple fixes to complex problems” — maybe the best one-liner from Obama’s much-buzzed Montana speech. Thoughtful voters know this at the cellular level, and reminding them that today’s Republicans are utterly incapable of creating reforms that incorporate this wisdom can only help brand Dems as the reality-based party. Also, “What happened to the Republican Party?” is a great shorthand way of reminding voters that the current GOP has lost the credibility of its better leaders, like Eisenhower, who understood the good leadership is about bringing people together, not exploiting their differencees. Lastly, the most-quoted line of Obama’s speech, “How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad?” brings home the shame of Trump and his party enablers giving right-wing terrorists a free ride.

In his op-ed, “The Anthem Is a Trap for Democrats: And some of them are walking right into it, to the glee of Republicans,” NYT columnist David Leonhardt makes a credible case that the ‘take a knee’ controversy has no real upside for Democratic candidates. Leonhardt argues, “As Tarini Parti and Henry Gomez of BuzzFeed News reported this week, Republicans have decided to make the protests a big part of their midterm campaign message. “Republican strategists and campaign staff,” Parti and Gomez write, “see opportunities for candidates to make the N.F.L. protests a political liability for Democrats defending seats in states President Donald Trump won in 2016.”…Republicans feel this way partly because they know public opinion cuts against them on a long list of issues: Trump’s performance, the Russia investigation, tax policy, health care, the minimum wage and more. On the national-anthem protests, by contrast, most Americans agree with Republicans…I don’t see a good argument, however, that the issue will help the Democrats in the midterms. On their own, the protests don’t seem big enough to inspire higher voter turnout among left-leaning people who rarely vote in midterms. Yet the issue does seem divisive enough to cause some swing voters to decide that Democrats are out of touch. It’s precisely the kind of issue that can lead white working-class voters to focus on the white part of their identity rather than the working-class part. When that happens, Republicans benefit. When those same voters are thinking about class — about taxes, health care and the like — Democrats benefit.”

Terence Burlij charts “the narrow path to a Democratic senate” at CNN Politics. His scenario: “Democrats still have a narrow path to the Senate majority despite a map that favors Republicans and includes 10 Democratic incumbents running in states President Donald Trump won, five of them by double-digit margins…The list of Democratic targets this cycle has doubled, with a pair of red states — Tennessee and Texas — looking increasingly competitive. With the Senate currently split 51-49 in favor of Republicans, if Democrats were able to win either of those contests — assuming they also flip Arizona and Nevada — it would mean the party could afford to see one of its incumbents defeated and still preserve a path to the majority.”

If you had to pick the most deserving Democratic House candidate outside of your residential district to support, the short list would surely include Lucy McBath, who is running in GA-6. At least one recent poll indicates a statistical tie with her Republican opponent, incumbent Karen Handel. McBath is the mother of Jordan Davis, who was brutally shot and killed while he was in a car that was playing music that was too loud for the shooter in another car. Mcbath, a survivor of breast cancer, is a strong supporter of gun safety measures, a minimum wage increase, reproductive rights for women and other progressive reforms. In April, 2017, Democrat John Ossoff received 48.1 percent of the vote in the GA-6 blanket primary, while Handel received just 19.8 percent. In the June runoff, Handel, supposedly received 51.8 percent of the vote, compared to Ossoff’s 48.2 percent. Contribute to McBath’s ActBlue page right here.

The keystone state may also provide the key to the midterm elections. As Reid J. Epstein reports at The Wall St. Journal, “Of the 63 GOP-held House seats that the Cook Political Report rates as lean Republican, a tossup or likely or lean Democratic, 31 come from six states. Democrats could run the table in battlefield districts in just four states—Pennsylvania, California, Florida and New Jersey—and capture the net 23 seats they need to seize the House majority without taking a single district anywhere else…Nine of Pennsylvania’s 18 House seats could change parties this year, a concentration of competitive races like nowhere else in the country due to the combination of court-ordered redistricting and a broader realignment of suburban voters away from the Republican Party…“The political winds are blowing six swing seats our way,” said Rep. Mike Doyle, a Pittsburgh Democrat who is the dean of the Pennsylvania House delegation. “It would not surprise me if our state flips more seats than any state in the country.”

Some encouraging words for Democrats from Albert R. Hunt at Bloomberg Opinion: “For all the fury over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, he’s expected to be confirmed on a mostly party-line vote, perhaps by Oct. 1, when the Supreme Court convenes. Politically, the fight probably is a wash or a slight energizer for Democrats…“I’ve never seen a wave reverse or dissipate between midsummer and Election Day,” said Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of the Cook Political Report and a sage of U.S. elections. “They have just remained constant or gotten bigger, like 1994 and 2006.”

2 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. pjcamp on

    ” In the June runoff, Handel, supposedly received ”

    I like that. Because everyone SHOULD know that Brian Kemp’s buddies at Kennesaw State successfully deleted all the vote returns when a court had ordered them preserved precisely BECAUSE of this particular election.

  2. Victor on

    The anthem is a trap because the whole discussion remains in a framework of symbolism.

    Democratic leaders must move the discussion from the realm of symbols to that of ideas and proposals.


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