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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In his syndicated column, “Brett Kavanaugh — and Susan Collins — better watch these seeds of a grass-roots revolt,” E. J. Dionne, Jr. reports on the uphill struggle citizens groups to persuade Sen. Susan Collins to vote against Trump’s GOP nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Most political observers believe Collins will cave to McConnell and the GOP and vote for Kavanaugh — even though it is clear that Kavanaugh is highly likely to support gutting Roe v. Wade and affirmative action, exempt the President from any accountability arising out of the Mueller investigation, weaken worker rights and “roll back environmental regulations and the Affordable Care Act.” Voting for Kavanaugh would also require Collins to ignore clear evidence that he lied under oath during the hearings. Dionne adds that “More broadly, there is a belief that the would-be justice is primarily a partisan and an ideologue. “He’s a political animal to the core — and I say that as a political animal,” said [activist Ben] Gaines, who worked for many Democrats around the country.”

Paul Waldman explains at The Plum Line why “a Supreme Court with Kavanaugh on it could create a free-for-all when it comes to the influence of money in politics, a new era in which corruption is absolutely rampant — and completely legal…To understand why, we have to look at not just what Kavanaugh believes, but at where the court has been heading in recent years. With the court about to be dominated by a quintet of highly ideological conservatives, conservative ideas about campaign finance and about corruption could come together in a way that presents a profound threat to the integrity of the American system of government…Once Kavanaugh joins the other conservatives on the Supreme Court, we could see almost all campaign finance laws disappear. Then Republicans will declare that we’ve solved the problem of corruption in politics, because almost nothing will be against the law.”

Daniel Strauss’s Politico article, “Obama jumps into Dem fight to reclaim Ohio: Richard Cordray’s campaign for governor has become a rallying point for Democrats focused on rebuilding the party” provides insights into Democratic midterm strategy in Rust Belt. As Strauss writes, “The campaign has become a focus for national Democrats intent on rebuilding their party: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a Cordray mentor, has stumped for him, as has Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), another potential 2020 presidential candidate. Former Vice President Joe Biden will also return to Ohio to boost Cordray soon, though the specifics of his next visit have not yet come together. They are hoping to undo years of reversals for the state Democrats, who have been locked out of every statewide constitutional office since 2010 and had no leverage on the last redistricting process, allowing Republicans to cement majorities in the state legislature.” In addition to the role President Obama, Strauss explores in detil the complex political dynamics of this key governor’s race.

“In 2016, four percent of registered voters did not vote because of “registration problems,” according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. Another three percent pointed to “transportation problems,” and two percent cited “inconvenient hours or polling places.”…Research has shown that one factor consistently linked with higher vote turnout is the ability to fix a registration issue at the time of voting. One of these registration problems is tied to an upsurge in voter purging. Across the country, the rate at which people are being purged from the voting rolls has increased substantially compared to a decade ago, according to a report from the Brennan Center published this summer. The analysis found about four million more people were purged between 2014 and 2016 than in the equivalent period between 2006 and 2008.”  — From Asma Khalid’s “Election Laws May Discourage Some From Voting, Even If They Are Allowed” at npr.og.

Paul Rosenzweig’s”Securing the Vote: A Report From the National Academies of Sciences” calls attention to an “elegant study of election security…without partisan bluster,” and cites three of it’s recommendations, including “Elections should be conducted with human-readable paper ballots.” Also, “States should mandate a specific type of audit known as a “risk-limiting” audit prior to the certification of election results. Additionally, “Internet voting should not be used at the present time, and it should not be used in the future until and unless very robust guarantees of secrecy, security, and verifiability are developed and in place.

At The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes and Nicholas Fandos discuss legislative proposals to deter foreign interference in U.S. elections, and note “Senator Mark Warner, the Virginia Democrat who is vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said to truly deter Russia, the United States must make clear that election interference will have “painful consequences…Senators Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, have written a bill, the Deter Act, to impose mandatory sanctions on anyone who attacks the American election…While the executive order would primarily target the people and entities that attack the election system, lawmakers said, the Senate legislation would have wider economic sanctions targeting financial institutions, oligarchs and others.”

Fando and Barnes add that “Another bipartisan group of senators — led by Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and Mr. Graham — have pushed for an even more aggressive sanctions package designed to impose devastating sanctions across the Russian economy pre-emptively. But it is less likely to receive serious consideration by Republican leaders in the Senate or the House…The fate of either measure ultimately rests with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader. He has not promised action but previously said it might be possible to vote on consensus legislation in October. Mr. McConnell assigned two committees to study sanctions and develop a single proposal for consideration. One of those, the Senate Banking Committee, convened a panel of experts on Wednesday to evaluate Mr. Trump’s executive action and the potential effect of targeting sectors of the Russian economy through new sanctions authorities.”

Jennifer Agiesta of CNN Politics reports that “Democrats maintain a wide lead over Republicans in the race for control of the House of Representatives, a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS finds, including a 10-point lead among those most likely to turn out this November…In a generic ballot test, 52% of likely voters back the Democratic candidate for House of Representatives in their district while 42% back the Republican. Among all registered voters, Democrats hold a 12-point margin over the GOP, suggesting preferences have not shifted much since an August CNN Poll, which did not include an assessment of likely voters…And more Americans say the country would be better off (40%) than worse off (28%) should Democrats take control of Congress in this November’s elections. That’s a wider margin that felt the nation would be better off should Republicans take control back in 2010. Only about a quarter now (27%) say it doesn’t make a difference, fewer than felt that way in 2014 or 2010, suggesting voters see this year’s contest as more consequential.”

An addendum to our staff post yesterday surveying political analyst views on Democratic prospects for winning a Senate majority in the midterms comes from Nate Silver, who writes at FiveThirtyEight that “Republicans Are Favorites In The Senate, But Democrats Have Two Paths To An Upset.” Silver notes that the FiveThirtyEight “model has Democrats as reasonably clear underdogs to take control of the Senate. Even though it’s more optimistic than the consensus about Democrats’ chances in several individual races — and even though the model is generated by the same program that gives Democrats around a 5 in 6 chance of winning the House — it nevertheless says Republicans have somewhere between a 2 in 3 and 7 in 10 chance to hold the Senate, depending on which version of our model you look at…In essence, writes Silver, “there are two ways by which Democrats might win the Senate: a macro path and a micro path.” Read Silver’s article for the detailed exploration of both paths.

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