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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: Getting Serious about Strategy

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

The 2020 election could be a very good one for the Democrats. The 2018 election exposed the vulnerabilities of Trump and the Trumpified GOP and Democrats made significant gains both inside and outside their core constituencies.

It’s a good setup but it’s a long way to the actual election. A lot could happen, not least strategic errors that could derail all the promise.

Let’s not do that. As my old friend Andy Levison argues, it’s time to get serious about strategy. To that end, he offers an excellent new essay, “Democrats: we need to get serious about political strategy for 2020–and that means putting aside the simplistic debates that now dominate the discussion“. Long title but he delivers a lot of great content in this compact, empirically-informed piece.

Levison argues:

“There are three simplistic notions that Democrats should put aside in order to begin serious strategic planning for 2020.
That elections are in essence contests between “good guys” (i.e. progressive demographic groups) and “bad guys” (i.e. conservative demographic groups).

* That increasing turnout is a “magic bullet” for winning elections.

* That campaigns should always heavily prioritize investing money and resources in “the Democratic base”–not only because those groups “deserve” it but also because they produce the most votes for the money.

* Democratic candidates and grass-roots activists need to forcefully resist the temptation to think in this way because it profoundly distorts the important, genuinely strategic kind of planning that candidates and campaigns urgently need to do in order to build effective organizations in specific states and congressional districts for 2020.

Let’s face it, in the popular journalistic metaphor that describes some political strategies as either “playing checkers” or “playing chess,” these three notions must be seen as falling in the first category rather than the second.”

I agree with Levison. These three notions have got to go! For more detail on how and why these notions are so very, very wrong, I urge you to read the whole essay.

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