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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

The New York Times editorial board says the Kavanaugh proceedings have become “a mockery of lawmakers’ constitutional responsibility,” which invite public skepticism. “The bulk of the blame lies with Senator Chuck Grassley, the committee chairman, and his fellow Republicans, who have abused their power by refusing to let their colleagues and the American people see over 90 percent of the documents relating to Judge Kavanaugh’s critical years in the federal government.” Add that to the fact that the Republicans refused to allow Judge Merrick Garland even a hearing, and it’s clear why the public has good reason to see the nomination process as corrupted by GOP hyperpartisanship.

“I can’t imagine a scenario where it benefits Republicans to have their party’s Judiciary Committee members — 11 men, 0 women — interrogating a woman about the details of her recollections of being sexually assaulted. The only way this definitely benefits them is if Kavanaugh can really, really prove in some way that this did not happen…It would not be the worst move for Republicans if they found a female Supreme Court nominee. The problem is, of course, that the number of people who have the Federalist Society credentials of conservatism and elite degrees and are also female and already sitting on the bench might be small.” – From Perry Bacon, Jr. in “How Will The Troubled Kavanaugh Nomination Affect The Midterms?,” in FiveThirtyEight’s Weekly Politics Chat.

Among the findings of a new poll by Pew Research Center on gender and leadership released today, “Only about a quarter of them [Republican men] said there were too few women in leadership. That’s compared with almost half of Republican women, roughly three-quarters of Democratic men and more than 80 percent of Democratic women,” reports Clair Cane Miller at The Upshot. The poll also found an edge for women in one area, which political ad-makers for women candidates may want to explore: “In politics, they were more likely to be viewed as being good role models, and as maintaining a tone of civility and respect.”

At New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait flags an ironic development that has emerged in the campaign for Ted Cruz’s U.S. senate seat: “Ted Cruz is running for reelection in Texas trying to humanize himself by talking about basketball, and accusing his opponent, Beto O’Rourke, of liking tofu, hating the national anthem, and plotting to ban barbecue. What’s notably missing from Cruz’s campaign message is any recognizable conservative program. The conservative agenda has become at best a distraction, and at worst a liability…In this pivotal moment in his career, facing a surprising reelection threat from left-leaning Beto O’Rourke, and running in a state that has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1976, conservative thought is almost completely absent from Cruz’s campaign themes. His television ads tout Cruz’s record in securing federal hurricane relief for Texas and attack his opponent. (What would Ludwig von Mises think?) Cruz’s role in supporting Trump’s conservative policy accomplishments goes unmentioned…O’Rourke opposed the Trump corporate tax cut. He is openly endorsingthat his state accept the Medicaid expansion created by Obamacare. If even a conservative movement fundamentalist like Cruz doesn’t want to campaign on these issues in a state like Texas, what does that say about the political health of conservatism?”

Nathaiel Rakich writes in FiveThirtyEight’s September 19 Election Update: “The most likely scenario in the upcoming midterm elections: split control of Congress. As of Tuesday evening, the Classic version of our model gave Republicans a 7 in 10 chance of keeping control of the Senate, slightly better than when we launched the forecast, and gave Democrats a 4 in 5 chance of flipping the House. That’s close to the highest odds for taking the House that Democrats have had since the beginning of August…As I wrote last Wednesday, 21 U.S. House seats fit in the middle of the Venn diagram between “districts carried by Barack Obama in 2012” and “districts carried by Donald Trump in 2016.” These districts aren’t quite as fertile for Democratic gains this year as Romney-Clinton districts, but they are nonetheless a competitive batch of seats…”

“Democratic legislatures will be more likely to expand Medicaid, raise teacher pay, enact minimum wage increases, and go for things like automatic voter registration that will increase political participation down the road,” notes Matthew Yglesias at Vox. “Trump’s deep unpopularity is likely to give state-level Democrats a big boost….we are very likely to see some chambers flip this November. The Democratic committee for state legislative races has identified 17 key races that could collectively flip eight chambers. And, given national trends, Democrats will likely flip far more than 17 seats…In terms of actually flipping chambers, though, it is worth noting that the “stretch” goal on that 17/8 list is to flip the Florida state Senate by picking up five seats — and Florida is one of the states where Trump’s numbers have held up worst…In general, Democrats are well-positioned to make gains down-ballot in 2018. That’s going to give them a bigger voice in 2020 redistricting and, of course, in the important work of state policymaking.”

“So our ratings now show Democrats favored to net three Republican-held governorships, Illinois, Michigan, and New Mexico, while the Republicans are favored to win Alaska, currently held by an independent,” notes Kyle Kondik at Sabato’s Crystal Ball. “There are seven remaining Toss-ups, and all but Connecticut are currently held by Republicans (and Democrats may ultimately have the edge in the Nutmeg State despite the unpopularity of outgoing Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy). So Democrats remain poised to net several governorships, although some of the biggest races — Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin most notably — remain uncertain.”

Ruy Teixeira cites an “interesting new round of state polls from Reuters/Ipsos,” which show Democratic candidates “Gillum and Sinema ahead, confirming other recent polls. Rosen behind in NV which is a bummer though race is clearly very tight. Most shocking is Beto O’Rourke ahead of Ted Cruz in Texas. I’m pretty skeptical given that most other recent polls have shown Cruz ahead. Also, the internals of the new poll show O’Rourke with 33 percent of the white vote which is super-high for Texas. But ya never know. If O’Rourke can really pull a third of the white vote, he’s golden.”

From Ronald Brownstein’s “The Year of the Woman of Color: Backlash to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh could help elect an unprecedented number of minority women to offices around the country” at The Atlantic: “Democrats have positioned themselves to benefit from that energy by nominating female candidates in 183 House races, according to the Rutgers University Center for American Women and Politics. That easily outdistances the previous record of 120 in 2016 and is much more than the 70 women who ran in 1992. (Republicans have nominated just 52 women in House races this year.) According to the center’s calculations, Democrats have also set records with 15 female Senate nominees (including the two challengers, in Nevada and Arizona, who are best-positioned to win GOP-held seats) and 12 gubernatorial picks…But this election could prove an even greater landmark for women of color. “I think what we’re seeing is the tipping point in the Democratic Party,” says longtime Democratic activist Aimee Allison. “We are telling a new story to the country about women of color: We are the least represented and the most progressive, and this is our year.”

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