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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Katha Pollitt argues in The Nation that “You Can’t Get Conservative White Women To Change Their Minds: The great electoral opportunity of 2020 is not in converting Trump voters. It’s motivating the large numbers of Americans who don’t vote at all.” As Pollitt explains, “Mostly, what changes people’s minds about important convictions is experience: something new and unusual that shakes their settled views…Of course, people do change their minds, but probably not after being proselytized by someone they barely know (or, in the case of family, know all too well). You won’t get far inviting your Trumpie co-worker out for coffee so you can politely suggest she’s a racist, or giving your Trumpie cousin a hard time about her Facebook posts at a baby shower…So why is it so hard to believe that white women who voted for Trump are mostly as fixed in their views as you are? They voted for him for dozens of reasons: to fit in with their family and community, to preserve or gain status, to piss off the libtards, to ally with their menfolk, to keep MS-13 from killing their children, to bring back jobs stolen by Mexico and China, to keep taxes low and black children out of their schools, or because it’s what Jesus wants…Rather than devoting yourself to chipping away at Trump’s base, it makes more sense to forget about them and outvote them…The great electoral opportunity of 2020 is not in the marginal number of repentant Trump voters you might be able to convert. It’s in the nearly 40 percent of eligible voters—many of them younger voters, rural residents, and people of color—who in 2016 did not vote at all.”

Politico headline: “GOP leader concedes ‘we have room for improvement” on House diversity.” Ya think?

In her New York Times op-ed, “Ohio Isn’t a Red State Yet: But it will be if Democrats do not fight for working people in every corner of the state,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley argues that “the results of this year’s election don’t support the argument that Ohio is firmly in the Republican Party’s column. Instead, they suggest how Democrats can still win statewide with a reorientation of our resources and our message…Those who see 2018 as a blood bath for Ohio Democrats are forgetting that Senator Sherrod Brown won by 6.4 percentage points. This was a larger margin of victory than he had in 2012 — when he shared the top of the ticket with President Barack Obama, who also carried the state…In Senator Brown, we see a model for success across the industrial Midwest: He maintains a laserlike focus on economic issues without compromising on civil rights and other core progressive values. He laid it out in his victory speech: “As we celebrate the dignity of work, we unify. We do not divide. Populists are not racists. Populists are not anti-Semitic. We do not appeal to some by pushing down others.”…If we’re serious about being the party of working people, we must meet them where they are — including engaging deeply in places like Chillicothe, Canton and Steubenville.”

Speaking of Senator Brown, Esquire’s Charles Pierce commends his candor in refusing to walk back his comments questioning the integrity of the ballot-count in the Georgia governor’s race. When MSNBC’s Chuck Todd questioned whether Brown’s description might undermine public trust in elections, Brown responded, “I was the secretary of state in Ohio 30 years ago. I know what you do, as secretary of state. You encourage people to vote. You don’t purge millions of voters. You don’t close down polling places in rural areas where voters have difficulty getting to the polls, which were mostly low-income areas. You don’t do what Republicans are doing all over the country…the secretary of state of Georgia should have recused himself from running that election, as Jimmy — as former — Georgia resident, former-President Jimmy Carter said he should.” Brown added that Republican Secretary of State Kemp “did everything he could to put his thumb on the scale and…quote, unquote “won” that election by only about a point…So don’t play this false equivalency. Because a former secretary of state, like me, said that about this election, which clearly is an effort to suppress the vote, not of people that look like you and me…” Todd was respectful and fair in giving Brown his say, but, with the notable exception of MSNBC, major broadcast media have generally glossed over voter supression, at best.

Danielle Root and Aadam Barclay have a post up at the Center for American Progress, a comprehensive survey entitled “Voter Suppression During the 2018 Midterm Elections.” The authors note that “This year—perhaps uncoincidentally—severe voter suppression occurred in states with highly competitive political races, including Georgia, Texas, Florida, and North Dakota.” The authors share details regarding: Voter registration problems; voter purges; voter ID and ballot requirements; voter confusion; voter intimidation and harrassment; poll closures and long lines; malfunctioning voter equippment; Disenfranchisement of justice-involved individuals; and gerrymendering. In one excerpt they note, “more than 10 percent of voter registrants in the “heavily African-American neighborhoods near downtown” Cincinnati were purged for failing to vote since 2012, compared with only 4 percent of registered voters living in the surrounding suburb of Indian Hill.” in another, they note, “In October 2018, Kansas officials moved the last remaining polling location in Dodge City—a majority-Hispanic community—outside the city limits and far away from public transportation. Compounding the problem, officials sent mailers to newly registered voters, incorrectly informing them that they were allowed to vote at the old location.” Also, “In Georgia, more than 1,800 voting machines sat unused in a warehouse on Election Day in three of Georgia’s largest and most heavily Democratic counties.”

“Voting reforms also ought to be top priority in the 14 “trifecta” states where Democrats now control the state house, state senate and governorship,” urges Jill Lawrence in her article, “Democrats need to be ruthless on fixing voting. They’re paying a steep price for neglect” in USA Today. “And whether through the party or other organizations, by whatever means are legal, rich Democrats ought to direct money to equipment upgrades, professionalizing voter administration (including ballot design) and candidates who are committed to reforms…The soonest Democrats could run the table nationally from Washington would be 2021. In the meantime, the House Democrats should pass all reforms they can and force Republicans to show what side they’re on. And state activists should aim to put reforms directly before voters in 2020 ballot measures wherever possible. This year, while a few states added voting restrictions, more states made it easier to vote and changed how districts are drawn to prevent gerrymandering situations like North Carolina.”

Alex Rogers and Clare Foran write at CNN Politics: “Massive fundraising in Maine. A countdown clock in Alabama. Calls and texts encouraging potential challengers in Colorado. Just a few weeks after 2018’s Election Day, the signs are clear: the 2020 Senate campaigns are already underway….Democrats start 2020 in a solid position, though they remain in the minority in the upper chamber of Congress. Of the 12 Democratic seats up for re-election, only two are from states President Donald Trump won in 2016 — Alabama’s Doug Jones and Michigan’s Gary Peters. Republicans have more seats to defend, with 22 GOP seats on the line…”The map looks good for the Democrats — I’ll tell you that,” Sen. Catherine Cortez, the new chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told CNN.”

At The New Republic, Alex Shephard outlines Democrat Mike Espy’s campaign strategy for tommorrow’s run-off in his race for the U.S. Senate: “Espy has an uphill climb. According to Vox, Democratic strategists have a clear goal for turnout: “Thirty-five percent of Mississippi’s population is black, and Democrats need them to make up at least that much of the electorate—preferably more, of course—to have a chance.” The centrist Espy is also hoping to pick off moderate Republicans. In Tuesday’s debate, he distanced himself from his party and made the case that he would be a forceful advocate for his state’s interests, touting a “Mississippi First” approach. “That means Mississippi over party. Mississippi over person,” he said. “I don’t care how powerful that person might be. It means Mississippi each and every time.”…During the debate, he also underscored his strong positions on gun rights and promised to push for a “strong immigration policy.” Meanwhile, concerns about health care, one of the defining issues in the midterms, may help Espy, who has returned to the subject again and again on the campaign trail. Hyde-Smith claims that she supports coverage of pre-existing conditions while also demanding that the Affordable Care Act be repealed. (This common Republican position is, of course, nonsensical, and voters punished the GOP for it in other states.)” David Weigel notes at The Washington Post, “Hyde-Smith’s party has the numbers, if it can tune them in to a post-Thanksgiving election. Espy’s campaign is working to convert a small pool of moderate voters, while it and multiple third-party groups try to fire up black voters. To win, Espy would need to combine historic turnout among African Americans with perhaps 30 percent of the white vote — easier to achieve if some white conservatives sit the election out.”

In his  WaPo wrap-up of the midterm elections, Dan Balz notes that “the Trump-centric strategy backfired spectacularly in the race for control of the House, as suburban voters revolted against the president, delivering a rebuke to his party’s candidates in district after district…If the enthusiasm for Trump in rural and small-town America constituted the story after 2016, the revolt against him in the suburbs, led by female voters, has become the story of the 2018 elections. The more you analyze the House results, the more the GOP’s suburban problem stands out…There were 30 districts categorized as suburban-sparse. Heading into the election, Republicans held every one of them. As a result of the election, Democrats will have 16 to the GOP’s 14. In the 15 districts described as suburban-dense, something similar happened. Republicans held all 15 before the election. In January, they will have control of just three. In the nine districts categorized as urban-suburban, Republicans will go from holding seven to holding just one.”

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