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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Kelsey Snell notes that “House Democrats Divided On Strategy To Force Release Of Trump’s Tax Returns” at npr.org: “Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee face a dilemma that is already familiar in the first weeks of their majority. Members generally agree that the public has a right to see the tax entanglements of a president. Things get trickier when it comes to who should be demanding those returns and how quickly they should force what is likely to be a confrontation with the administration over the issue…There is a mechanism, known as the “committee access” provision, that allows the tax writing committee to request tax records of any taxpayer from the secretary of the Treasury. It is unclear how the agency will respond to that request and whether it will stall or resist efforts to turn over Trump’s personal returns to the panel.” As House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. said. “That said, we’re not going to overreach, we’re not going to overinvestigate, we’re not going to overpoliticize our constitutional responsibilities.” Meanwhile Snell quote Rep Ron Kind D-WI: First of all, there’s no rush…I gotta believe that the Mueller team already has their hands on the president’s tax returns. If they’re looking for a possible connection between Russia and his family, there is a danger in trying to go too far too fast.”

“A new poll is finding broad support for an annual wealth tax on people with assets of at least $50 million, underlining support for taxing the rich,” reports Matthew Sheffield at The Hill. “The Hill-HarrisX survey released Wednesday found that 74 percent of registered voters back an annual 2 percent tax on people with assets over $50 million, and a 3 percent tax on people with assets in excess of $1 billion…The poll showed support for the idea among people of all ages and races and from both political parties…Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) proposed the wealth tax last month. She is one of several high-profile Democrats calling for higher taxes on the wealthy…Just 26 percent of respondents said they were opposed to the wealth tax…Strong majorities of both sexes said they favored the tax, as did a majority of Republicans. Sixty-five percent of GOP voters supported it while only 35 percent opposed it. Independents backed the tax 69 to 31 percent, as did 86 percent of Democratic voters.”

Sheffield cites similar findings from other polls: “A Jan. 22-23 Business Insider-SurveyMonkey poll found that 54 percent of adults favored Warren’s proposal while only 19 percent disagreed with it. Another 15 percent said they were unsure…The policy idea attracted majority support in a Feb. 1-2 Morning Consult-Politico survey of registered voters. Sixty-one percent of respondents backed a wealth tax while only 20 percent were opposed. Nineteen percent were unsure.

Oliver Roeder takes a stab at explaining “Why It’s Unlikely We’ll Get A Deal On The Wall Anytime Soon: That’s what the game theorists think, anyway” at FiveThirtyEight, and notes “Since economist John Nash revolutionized economics, bargaining has been the stuff of game theorists. What makes a deal more likely to happen? And what makes it more likely to fall apart? The fruits of that study hold a couple of lessons for reading the news, and the tea leaves, coming out of the White House and the Capitol over the next few days…Why are we playing this particular game? Why, specifically, is a partial shutdown the outcome that arises in the absence of an agreement? This seems, as an economist would say, inefficient — a little bit of miscoordination can lead to a big consequence. Perhaps, as is the case elsewhere, the previous budget should remain in force if no deal is reached. Or perhaps the parties should be forced into mediation, as is sometimes the case in the private sector. To an economist, these ideas to remake the system sound like attractive efficiency boosters.”

If you want to get a little wonky about analysing border walls, check out “What the research says about border walls” by Denise-Marie Ordway at Journalists Resource, which reviews seven scholarly articles on the topic. Among the findings reported by Ordway: “Scholars from Dartmouth College and Stanford University examine how expanding the U.S.-Mexico border fence has affected migration and the U.S. economy…The key takeaway: The $2.3 billion project curbed migration and benefited low-skill U.S. workers but hurt high-skill U.S. workers. “In total, we estimate the Secure Fence Act reduced the aggregate Mexican population living in the United States by 0.64 percent, equivalent to a reduction of 82,647 people,” the authors write…According to the analysis, another fence expansion “would have larger impacts on migration from Mexico to the United States, they would also result in greater reallocation of economic activity to Mexico; for example, a wall expansion that builds along half the remaining uncovered border would result in 144,256 fewer Mexican workers residing in the United States, causing the United States real GDP to decline by $4.3 billion, or approximately $29,800 in lost economic output for each migrant prevented.”

From “Targeted internet ads may improve millennial voter turnout,” also by Denise-Marie Ordway at Journalist’s Resource: “If you want to get more millennials to vote in municipal races, targeted internet ads may help, according to a new study published in Political Communication…The study, done in partnership with The Dallas Morning News, finds that Dallas voters between the ages of 23 and 35 were more likely to participate in certain local races if they had been targeted by internet ads promoting election news coverage and election reminders…The effect was small — turnout was less than 1 percentage point higher among these millennials compared with those in the control group, which did not receive any ads. But the ads were shown to be more effective than direct mail and automated phone calls, the study’s lead author, Katherine Haenschen, told Journalist’s Resource.”

Further, notes Ordway, “Reaching millennials is of particular interest to community leaders, political party officials and campaign organizers because people born between 1981 and 1996 are projected to become America’s largest voting bloc. Millennials made up 27 percent of the voting-age population in the United States in November 2016, just under Baby Boomers, who comprised 31 percent, a 2018 report from the Pew Research Center shows. Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964…While the number of millennials continues to grow – largely through immigration and naturalization, according to Pew – millennials are much less likely to vote than earlier generations. For example, 51 percent of eligible millennials nationwide voted in the 2016 presidential election, compared with 69 percent of Boomers…This study claims to present the first evidence that online ads can boost voter participation. Haenschen, a communication professor at Virginia Tech, said they can be especially useful in reaching millennials and other hard-to-reach voters, including those who live in remote locations or do not have landline telephones.”

Tara Golshan has a succinct description of “The dumpster fire that is Virginia politics, explained in 500 words” at vox.com. An excerpt: “If all three Democrats resign — which looks unlikely at this point, but isn’t out of the realm of possibility — the governorship would be passed to Republican Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox, whose district, a court determined, was drawn in a way that discriminated against African-American voters…To top it all off, Cox got his speakership only after the state settled a tied election — that determined which party would control the chamber — by drawing a name out of a bowl.”

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Larry J. Sabato and Kyle Kondik explain that “Looming over all of this is the upcoming state legislative elections in Virginia this NovemberRepublicans are hanging on to very slim majorities in the state House of Delegates (51-49) and state Senate (21-19). Democrats made a net 15-seat gain in the House of Delegates in November 2017 as Northam, Fairfax, and Herring won statewide. Democrats seemed like favorites to win both chambers — we’ll analyze these races later in the year — particularly because a new state House of Delegates map imposed by judicial order will improve Democratic odds in that chamber. Some Virginia Democratic operatives, even before the current mess, were concerned that the white hot intensity that fueled Democrats in 2017 and 2018 might cool in 2019, particularly without any statewide elections on the ballot. Lower turnout might help Republicans, whose voter base in Virginia (and elsewhere) can be more reliable in off-year elections. Still, the growing nationalization of American politics could help the Democrats by pushing them to maximize turnout in Virginia by focusing again on the unpopular President Trump. But one could imagine the opposite happening, particularly if Northam hangs around and depresses Democrats, or the Fairfax allegations continue to churn. Perhaps a statewide election for lieutenant governor, if it happens, will increase turnout in Democrats’ favor. Or if Northam stays, could we see Democratic state legislative candidates running on impeaching their own party’s governor? It’s not impossible, and it would be just the latest crazy development in a state rocked by them over the last week.”

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