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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is on a roll. In addition to her impressive stand at the White House meeting to avert a government shutdown, “Pelosi has very likely sewn up the support she needs to become speaker of the House next year when the new Congress is sworn in, reports Scott Detrow at NPR. “In a deal struck with a group of House Democrats who had vowed to vote against the longtime Democratic leader in next month’s House speaker election, the California lawmaker agreed to term limits that would see her hold the post through 2022 at the latest. The agreement ensures Pelosi will easily have the 218 votes she needs to win the speakership on the House’s first ballot…”Over the summer, I made it clear that I see myself as a bridge to the next generation of leaders,” Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday evening announcing the agreement, “a recognition of my continuing responsibility to mentor and advance new Members into positions of power and responsibility in the House Democratic Caucus.” Detrow adds, “The term limits agreement, which still needs to be formalized by a vote of House Democrats, would limit caucus leaders to three terms, and a fourth term if two-thirds of the caucus agrees to it. The new limits would apply retroactively to Pelosi as well as incoming Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and incoming Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.”

The Washington Post Editorial Board explores a possible bipartisan solution regarding Trump’s Wall for both Trump and Democrats. Here’s a compromise they pitch to Democrats: “The wall as Mr. Trump imagines it may be wasteful overkill, but it’s a stretch to frame it as a moral issue, as Ms. Pelosi does. The initial funding the president seeks, $5 billion, is hardly a break-the-bank sum by Washington standards — especially given that Democrats are already prepared to offer $1.6 billion for border security. And even if funds for a wall were appropriated, construction would immediately be challenged by ranchers and other property owners along the border, who could tie it up in court…If there is a moral imperative in any trade-off involving immigration and security, it’s the urgent necessity of finding a way to ensure a future in this country for dreamers, who are Americans by upbringing, education, loyalty and inclination — by every metric but a strictly legal one. Striking a deal that achieves that outcome should be a no-brainer for both sides. If it means a few billion dollars to construct segments of Mr. Trump’s wall, Democrats should be able to swallow that with the knowledge that it also will have paid to safeguard so many young lives, careers and hopes. That’s not a tough sell even in a Democratic primary.”

But Greg Sargent isn’t having it. As he writes in his column, “After Trump’s meltdown over his wall, Democrats cannot give any ground” at The Plum Line: “Tuesday’s events really underscore that Democrats must not give any ground in this showdown. Everyone knows Trump’s call for a wall has zero in the way of real policy justification. As I’ve argued, Democrats must use their new House majority to get back into the fight against Trump’s war on facts, and mount a stand on behalf of empiricism and good faith governing. Trump’s display of lies, bad faith and destructive threats cannot be rewarded. Especially coming after a midterm that Republicans themselves say demonstrated the bone deep toxicity of Trump’s xenophobic nationalism, it must be unambiguously repudiated.”

And Post columnist Jennifer Rubin also sees Trump’s Oval Office meltdown as an unambiguous victory for Democrats: “It is not clear how Trump could have appeared any more irrational and unhinged. (If he thinks the military can build the wall, why shut down the government?) The video of him declaring his desire to shut down the government will be played over and over again should he get his wish. Good luck convincing the American people that the Democrats, who control nothing and advocated keeping the government open, are at fault…In some ways, a shutdown at the end of 2018 would put an exclamation point on one of the worst years in memory for Republicans. The president is under investigation in multiple venues. Republicans lost 40 seats and with them the House majority. Indeed that number might be 41 thanks to substantial evidence of election fraud by Republicans in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. Legislatively, Republicans have accomplished next to nothing this year. If they shut down the government, they’ll wind up confirming that the party of Trump is not only unethical but also incompetent and dysfunctional. Christmas sure came early for Democrats.”

Tallahassee’s Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum lost his bid to win the governorship of Florida by 0.39 percent out of over 8 million votes cast — the smallest margin in the history of Florida’s gubernatorial elections. But it now turns out that he was unjustly smeared by his GOP opponent Ron DeSantis. As Marc Caputo reports at Politico, “Federal authorities unveiled a 44-count, 66-page indictment Wednesday of a Tallahassee politician and a city official that involved six companies, five other players and a bank in a wide-ranging bribery, extortion, fraud and racketeering scheme…But amid all the detail and alleged corruption in the indictment, one name is conspicuously absent: Andrew Gillum, who was Tallahassee’s mayor at the time and who was accused repeatedly on the gubernatorial campaign trail this year by Republican opponent Ron DeSantis — and even President Donald Trump — of being tied to the suspected wrongdoing the FBI was investigating…Republicans spent at least $7 million on TV ads — 27 percent of the total $26 million dropped on air in the general election — attacking Gillum in connection with the FBI probe. But the investigation, records indicate, ultimately had little to do with the former mayor.”

At FiveThirtyEight, “White Voters Without A Degree Remained Staunchly Republican In 2018” by Nathaniel Rakich and Julia Wolfe shares some data and insights about the role of the white working-class in the 2018 midterm elections, including: “We found a clear negative relationship (R = -0.72) between the Democratic margin of victory in a district and the share of the district’s population age 25 or older who are non-Hispanic white and lack a bachelor’s degree — a group that pundits often call the “white working class.”…Indeed, a district’s share of non-Hispanic whites without a bachelor’s degree was slightly more predictive of how it voted in the 2016 presidential election than in the 2018 U.S. House election: The correlation coefficient between Hillary Clinton’s vote margin and the percentage of the district that was white people without a bachelor’s degree was -0.79 in 2016, compared with -0.72 in 2018…In terms of white voters’ educational attainment predicting election outcomes, 2018 represented a middle ground between 2016 and 2012.” The authors conclude “Would Democrats be able to build on their 2016 gains in diverse, upper-class suburbs to make states like Texas competitive? Based on the 2018 election results, it looks as if the answer might be yes.”

Don’t Discount Older Voters. They Could Decide the White House: Senior power is the sleeping giant of American politics,” writes Frederick R. Lynch in The New York Times. “Senior power is the sleeping giant of American politics. In the midterm elections, according to CNN exit polls, 56 percent of voters were over age 50, and about a quarter (26 percent) were 65 or over. By comparison, voters under age 30 accounted for just 13 percent — and it was a good year for youth turnout…Those age 50-plus voters split their votes evenly between Democrats and Republicans. The party that maximizes its share of those high-turnout voters wins an emerging swing constituency, and especially in key battleground states…In 2018, 59 percent of whites 45 to 64 years old voted Republican, as did 56 percent of whites over 65. (In the past two presidential contests, about 60 percent of white baby boomers and a slightly higher percentage of voters over 65 voted for Mitt Romney and Mr. Trump.)…Democrats must reclaim those voters, especially the economically anxious working- and middle-class whites who were once a core constituency. And doing so does not mean narrowing the party’s coalition: It can be done in a way that would also appeal to younger voters, minorities and women. It is a positive national message that worked well for several 2018 congressional candidates…To do this, Democrats must remind voters of the party’s heritage and re-emphasize the wildly popular landmark New Deal and Great Society programs: Medicare and Social Security.”

At The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein considers the political repercussions of how Democrats respond to Trump’s gowing liabilities resulting from the Mueller probe: “Democratic audiences are sure to press the 2020 candidates, once they start announcing early next year, to indicate whether they would prosecute Trump if they beat him. It won’t be too long until a crowd in Iowa or New Hampshire flips the gender in Trump’s derisive chant about Hillary Clinton: “Lock her up…At that point, Democrats will face a choice that some strategists believe could provide one of the campaign’s first defining moments. Do they suppress the chant? Join in? Find a middle ground? One top strategist for a potential top-tier Democratic candidate, who asked not to be identified to discuss internal strategy, said in such a crowded field it’s inevitable some candidates will target the progressive base by promising to pursue Trump. “Someone looking for attention is going to set a bar on this,” the strategist said.” But there is a wiser course for Democratic candidates, as Brownstein notes that “Neil Sroka, communications director for the grassroots liberal group Democracy for America, predicts that progressives won’t pressure Democrats to echo Trump’s belligerent threats against Clinton (which have continued in office). “I could see a really powerful moment…when a chant of ‘lock him up’ emerges from the audience, a candidate stepping back and saying ‘No, this is what makes us different from the other side,’” Sroka said.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. pjcamp on

    The Washington Post Editorial Board seems to have forgotten that the compromise they propose was already agreed to two years ago. Then John Kelly and Stephen Miller blew it up, and Trump withdrew from it, because it didn’t also decimate legal immigration except for white people.

    What on Earth makes them think this time will be different?


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