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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

From Greg Sargent’s “Memo to Democrats: Don’t wring your hands about investigating Trump” at The Plum Line: “So here is our contribution to this debate: Shut up and stop wringing your hands, “cautious Democrats.” This whole fear appears to be based on the notion that Democrats face some sort of zero-sum choice between investigating Trump on the one hand, and focusing investigative authority on policy and governing on the other…If Democrats focus their oversight authority on serious abuses of power, governing fiascoes and corruption — and stick to where the facts lead — they’ll be, yes, investigating Trump, while also standing for a restoration of transparency, accountability, legitimate governance and the rule of law. There’s no need to allow this to get hyped into a false choice or a cause for hand-wringing, Democrats.”

Joan McCarter writes at Daily Kos that “Threats to health care helped swing older voters to the Democrats in the midterms.” McCarter explains, “According to exit polling for this midterm, Republicans had just a 51-49 advantage with the 50-64 group, and 50-48 among the over 65s. That was enough of a shift, along with higher-than-normal turnout among younger voters, to offset the advantage Republicans have had…But the threat to health care for people with pre-existing conditions, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, and the Democrats’ full-on embrace of the issue appears to have made all the difference. From mid-September to mid-October, analysis of House and Senate campaign ads by the Wesleyan Media Project found that 54.5 percent of all the ads from Democrats talked about health care, whereas just 31.5 percent from Republicans did. Go back to 2010, and from then until this cycle no more than 10 percent of ads from Democrats talked about the issue. That’s in all four elections before this one. Republicans owned it, being four times more likely to advertise against Obamacare than Democrats to defend it. It dominated issue ads this cycle, comprising more than a third of all the election ads. And three-fourths of those 1.2 million ads were from Democrats and organizations backing them.”

Katrina vanden Heuval, editor of The Nation and Washington Post columnist writes,”House Democrats won a majority in the midterms with a focus on health care and other kitchen-table issues. When the next Congress begins in January, though, Republican control of the Senate means that Democrats will have little ability to advance the policies they campaigned on. But even with a divided government and a president who is more interested in sowing division than developing legislation, Democrats can lay out markers for a bold alternative to Trumpism….With members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in line to chair 13 committees, the incoming majority can also connect much-needed oversight to a bold policy vision that frames a clear choice for voters heading into 2020…Midterm voters sent a loud message by electing a new generation of progressive activists to Congress. Party leaders would be wise to amplify their voices and the ideas that made them so compelling to voters and movement activists across the country.”

“A study published in the journal Political Psychology in 2017 found that children’s political views do tend to be similar to those of their parents at age 18, but then diverge rapidly,” notes Sandra Newman at Post Everything Perspective. “By the time a person reached age 35, the political attitudes of the county the person lived in were twice as likely to predict their political beliefs as the politics of their parents. By age 50, parental influence had almost entirely disappeared.”

In suspicious statistics news, The Washington Post’s Vanessa Williams notes at The Fix that, according to CNN exit polling following the miderm elections, 11 percent of African American men voted for Georgia gubernatorical candidate Brian Kemp — despite the same poll showing 97 percent of Black women voting for Democrat Stacy Abrams. The poll also says 75 percent of Georgia white female voters chose Kemp. An AP poll found only 8 percent of Black men voting for Kemp.

If you want to “Meet the Democrats Who Want Pelosi to Step Aside,” read Julie Hirschfield Davis’s New York Times profile, which observes that “Their ideological leanings and political profiles are diffuse…What the group shares is a determination to shake up the top echelons of the House Democratic Caucus, whose leaders have remained unchanged for more than a decade, with Ms. Pelosi, 78, at the helm; Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, 79, as the No. 2, and Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, 78, as the third ranking… the list of signatories to the letter is limited, representing fewer than 10 percent of House Democrats. In fact, their ranks may be shrinking as Ms. Pelosi pulls them to her one at a time.” Davis provides capsule introductions to each of the advocates of Dems having a different Speaker for the upcoming session.

WaPo Columnist Dana Milbank suggests a middle-ground appoach to the debate about whether Nancy Pelosi should be the  next House Speaker: “…she should be that transitional figure — now. By announcing that this will be her last term, she would deflate the insurgency against her, give new members a reason to feel good about voting for her, lead Democrats with discipline in 2019 and preside over an orderly transition…now is the time to make herself a lame duck (and coax Hoyer and Clyburn into that pond, too). Pelosi allies fear she would lose her fundraising clout if she announced this to be her last term. But Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who announced his retirement in April, did fine as a lame-duck fundraiser, even during a bad year for Republicans. His Congressional Leadership Fund raised nearly $144 million this cycle, and his Team Ryan joint fundraising committee raised an additional $64 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics…By announcing that this will be her last term, Pelosi would make herself the kingmaker (or queenmaker), while remaining the disciplinarian Democrats urgently need. This is the time to begin a departure on her terms.”

NYT columnist Paul Krugman explains “How Democrats Can Deliver on Health Care: New Jersey shows the way. You got a problem with that?” Krugman observes, “The most dramatic example of how this can be done is New Jersey, where Democrats gained full control at the end of 2017 and promptly created state-level versions of both the mandate and reinsurance. The results were impressive: New Jersey’s premiums for 2019 are 9.3 percent lower than for 2018, and are now well below the national average. Undoing Trumpian sabotage seems to have saved the average buyer around $1,500 a year…Now that Democrats have won control of multiple states, they can and should emulate New Jersey’s example, and move beyond it if they can. Why not, for example, introduce state-level public options — actuarially sound government plans — as alternatives to private insurance?”

Big Business Is Stealing From Their Own Workers. Will Democrats Stop Them?” By Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast suggests more Democratic focus on a neglected issue: “If the Democrats’ job number one heading into 2020 is to win back some of those white working-class voters who deserted them in 2016, this general problem of wage theft seems like an awfully good place to start. It affects many millions of Americans of all races and in all places. Yet I don’t hear many Democrats talk about it. No one in the broader public even knows what “wage theft” means. Somebody stole your pay packet as you walked home from work? No. It’s what employers extract from employees in not paying them what they’ve earned…And Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who is a Democrat, has legislation that would similarly tax companies (though at a lower rate than Sanders) whose employees need public assistance and would offer some tax credits to companies that did the right thing and raised wages. So, stick and carrot, in other words. The Senate actually voted on it during the farm bill debate last June, and while it lost, it got the support of every Democrat. Note, every Democrat: Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, Jon Tester, everyone. Democrats are and will be divided on some cultural issues, but on something like this, they can be 100 percent united.” Sounds like a winner.

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    “Meet the Democrats Who Want Pelosi to Step Aside,”

    What about the obstructionist opposition from the so called, “Problem Solver” caucus stating that they will only vote for a speaker candidate who supports their rule changes?

    The name of the caucus, the name of the rules and general words of support from reporters who repeat the talking points that these politicians want to” shake up leadership” aren’t enough to explain and justify the demand and timing of it.

    It would be helpful to find and read from anywhere how the rules would affect Democratic gains and Republican losses in the House along with the Democrats lack of power in the Senate.
    And If not Pelosi for speaker then who do they have in mind? They did say any candidate. How long do they intend to take to find their special candidate? And then just because this group finds someone that will go along with their curiously timed demands there are no guarantees that the rest of the party will prefer their choice over another.

    Is there some version of these demands from bipartisan problem solvers in the Senate? No?
    Could new rules be created to help unlock it for the minority party? I’m sure we’d only hear about that if the Democrats ever win a majority there.


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