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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Some highlights from “GOP sees Kavanaugh as boost for Senate, danger for House” by Scott Wong, Lisa Hagen and Mike Lillis: “A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marish survey released Wednesday shows the Democratic advantage has basically vanished. Once a 10-point margin for Democrats in July is now only a 2-point gap between Democrats and Republicans who consider the elections “very important.”…Polling released from Harvard CAPS/Harris on Monday showed that registered Democratic voters are slightly more likely to vote than Republican and independent voters based on the battle over the Kavanaugh nomination, which could provide some comfort to the party. Half of Democratic voters say they’re more likely to vote, compared to 46 percent of GOP voters…But Democrats’ Senate Majority PAC says it has conducted 24,000 interviews in states with Senate races since Thursday that shows the Kavanaugh nomination is not the game changer the GOP claims. The group says it hasn’t moved the needle in horse-race polling in Trump states, arguing that health care is still the top issue…While Trump’s attacks on Ford could excite the [GOP] base, many believe it could do lasting damage with independents and female, suburban voters whose support endangered House Republicans will need if they are to survive in November.”

Lillis, Hagen and Wong also note that “Democrats, meanwhile, have already been energized by what appears to be a backlash against the mercurial president, especially among female voters and candidates, who are running in record numbers this cycle…“The women of America are very energized — and they started to be energized on the 21st of January 2017. It has not dissipated,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the Democratic whip, told a small group of reporters in his Capitol office. “And while I believe there’s some energy on the other side as well, I don’t think it matches the energy that was created on our side, which was already at a high level.”…If the Kavanaugh nomination is derailed, Republicans like Freedom Caucus Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) believe the defeat will deflate the base and depress turnout in November. But others argue it could mobilize GOP voters — at least in Senate races.” While some very recent polls do show an uptick in GOP base voter enthusiasm, it’s unlikely that it will exceed the increase in voter enthusiasm among Democrats. Much depends on the wild card that will be played today, the results of the F.B.I.’s Kavanaugh investigation. Don’t be shocked if any GOP base Kavanaugh bump evaporates in the month ahead, as voters begin focusing on issues of concern that can actually be affected by their votes.

In his article, “Brett Kavanaugh Is Patient Zero” Ronald Brownstein writes in The Atlantic: “If Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is truly concerned about preserving the Court’s legitimacy in American life, as he’s often suggested, Brett Kavanaugh has become his worst nightmare…Before the disputed Bush v. Gore decision, which ended the recount in the 2000 presidential election, about half of Americans routinely expressed a great deal of confidence in the Court, according to Gallup polling. That number has fallen to 40 percent or less since the mid-2000s; in the latest Gallup measurement, from June, just one-third of Democrats said they had faith in the Court, compared with about two-fifths of Republicans…After Friday’s Senate Judiciary Committee session, Kavanaugh is facing a renewed FBI investigation into the sexual-assault charges against him from Christine Blasey Ford. But even if that inquiry fails to produce decisive evidence, and Senate Republicans push through his nomination, the tactics Kavanaugh has already employed to preserve his candidacy are bound to stoke Roberts’s greatest fear…if the Senate confirms Kavanaugh, it will present Roberts with a justice whose every decision will be viewed through the lens of the partisan and tribal animosities he inflamed to defend his nomination…In every possible way, he validated the portrait that critics had painted of him as a Republican operative in robes.”

At law.com, Karen Sloan reports that “900+ Law Profs Say Kavanaugh Lacks ‘Judicial Temperament,’ in Letter to Senate,” and observes that “The list of signatories is growing by the hour, and organizers plan to send the letter to senators on Thursday. As of Wednesday morning, 907 professors from 154 law schools had signed on…We have differing views about the other qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh,” the letter reads. “But we are united, as professors of law and scholars of judicial institutions, in believing that Judge Kavanaugh did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land…A separate group of 660 female law professor are also planning to send their own letter to the the Senate Thursday, arguing that Kavanaugh cannot be impartial and that he was especially condescending toward women senators during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.”

Kavanaugh’s evangelical conservative supporters won’t like it much, but “The nation’s largest group of Christian churches on Wednesday called for the withdrawal of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for the Supreme Court,” notes Avery Anapole, writing at the Hill. “The National Council of Churches, which represents 38 denominations in the US, wrote in a statement on their website that they believe Kavanaugh has “disqualified himself from this lifetime appointment and must step aside immediately…”Judge Kavanaugh exhibited extreme partisan bias and disrespect towards certain members of the committee and thereby demonstrated that he possesses neither the temperament nor the character essential for a member of the highest court in our nation,” the statement read…The National Council of Churches alleged that Kavanaugh’s testimony included “several misstatements and some outright falsehoods,” including some related to Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party in the 1980s.”

“Several Democratic candidates around the country are conducting shrewd, intelligent campaigns for Congress, focusing on real issues and letting the Trumps fall where they may,” writes Richardf Hermann in “A Democratic midterms strategy” at The Wayne Post. “They realize that they do not need to fulminate incessantly against President Trump’s countless foibles, faults and failures. He does this very ably all by himself. He is the perfect vehicle for keeping his mayhem front and center, reminding voters daily why it is essential to come out and vote against his enablers in November…Trump’s inability to stop tweeting, turn off the TV and actually govern permits Democrats to zero in on issues that matter to voters: a broken and obscenely expensive healthcare system; K-12 education that has fallen behind the rest of the developed world; unaffordable higher education that often does not lead to a decent job; blindness to the massive workplace changes about to hit us from technological innovation; expanding income inequality; collapsing infrastructure; climate change denial; inept disaster response; an unfair tax system that favors the wealthy; unsustainable entitlement programs; an ignored opiod crisis; and disastrous deregulatory initiatives that will sicken and even kill Americans.”

“The United States’ turnout in national elections lags behind other democratic countries with developed economies, ranking 26th out of 32 among peers in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to the Pew Research Center…Perhaps the most significant change has been in who votes. Unlike in the 19th century, voter turnout is now highly correlated with class. More than 80 percent of Americans with college degrees vote compared with about 40 percent of Americans without high school degrees, according to Jonathan Nagler, a political scientist at New York University and co-author of a 2014 book, “Who Votes Now.”…“There is a class skew that is fundamental and very worrying,” said Alexander Keyssar, a historian at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, who wrote “The Right to Vote.” “Parts of society remain tuned out and don’t feel like active citizens. There is this sense of disengagement and powerlessness.” — From “Planning to Vote in the November Election? Why Most Americans Probably Won’t” by Sabrina Tavernise.

In his article, “Ratings Changes: House, Senate, and Governor: Democrats inching closer to magic number in House, poised to net several governorships; Senate battle murky as Kavanaugh effect uncertain” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik writes, “We have 11 House ratings changes, all in favor of Democrats…Five gubernatorial ratings changes go in different directions but are generally better for Democrats…while we have the Democrats favored to win three GOP-held governorships already, they could win substantially more than that if the Toss-ups break their way.” Kondik sees a net loss of one senate seat for Dems as a plausible outcome at this politivsl moment.

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Martin Lawford on

    When the leaders of an institution fail in their main mission, they take up tangential issues. The main mission of the National Council of Churches is winning souls for Christ. They have been failing badly at that for many years. All seven of the largest denominations in the NCC are smaller than they were twenty years ago. The United Church of Christ, for instance, shrank by 20% from 2005-2014. The Disciples of Christ lost 10% just during 2014-2017. The NCC says “Judge Kavanaugh’s record is troubling with regard to issues of voting rights, racial and gender justice, health care, the rights of people with disabilities and environmental protection.” They are certainly entitled to concern themselves with these issues if they want to, just like anybody else. Yet, since the NCC has been doing this while they failed at their main mission I suspect they are doing it precisely because of their basic failure.


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