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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he won’t allow Senate consideration of ‘The Electoral Reform Act,’ because “”Because I get to decide what we vote on,” reports Marianne Levine at Politico. The House version, H.R. 1 is expected to pass this week. Levine notes that “The legislation contains a series of voting reforms Democrats have long pushed for, including automatic voter registration, expansion of early voting, an endorsement of D.C. statehood and a requirement that independent commissions oversee House redistricting. In addition, the bill requires “dark money” groups to disclose donors.” McConnell says ““What is the problem we’re trying to solve here?…People are flooding to the polls.” Clearly all hope for Demopcratic enactment of the legislation require a Democrats winning a senate majority and the presidency in 2020. There is merit in begining to educate the public about the bill’s provisions now. But it might also be a good idea to break it into separate bills to force the Republicans to take a position on it’s more popular elements, such as disclosure of dark money donors.

Nathaniel Rakich provides the best update yet on “The Movement To Skip The Electoral College Is About To Pass A Major Milestone: With Colorado expected to join, the National Popular Vote compact is about to snag its first purple state.” Rakich pinpoints and assesses the complex state politics and legal challenges that the movement faces in meeeting it’s ultimate goal – election of the president exclusively by popular vote. A more traditional constitutional amendment approach would also be fraught with complex state politics. But opinion polls indicate solid popular support for election of the president by direct popular vote. that At the very least, however, the popular vote compact movement will help build support for abolishing the Electoral College.

At Brookings, William H. Frey reports that “A vast majority of counties showed increased Democratic support in 2018 House election,” and notes that “83 percent of all voters resided in counties that increased their D-R margins between 2016 and 2018—including 26 percent that increased their D-R margins by more than 10, and 57 percent that increased their margins by 0 to 9…there was a shift between the 2016 and 2018 elections for suburban counties in large metropolitan areas from a negative to a positive D-R margin. Also, the D-R margin became more positive in large urban cores and less negative for counties outside large cores and suburbs…As for the nation as a whole, most voters in each category resided in counties where D-R margins became more positive or less negative between the 2016 and 2018 elections (see Figure 4). This is especially notable for large suburbs, where 87 percent of voters resided in counties with increased D-R margins. For residents in both small metropolitan areas and outside metropolitan areas, that percentage was 81 percent…Additionally, more than a quarter of suburban or small metro voters resided in counties where the D-R margin rose by more than 10.”

One core asett behind Trump’s success with white working-class voters in 2016 is that he was perceived as a champion of trade policies that would protect their jobs. But the bloom may soon come  off that rose, as indicated by Jordan Weissman’s “So Far, Donald Trump’s Trade War Is an Utter Failure” at slate.com. “Consider the trade deficit, which Trump has promised to shrink. On Thursday, the Commerce Department reported that it actually grew by $68.8 billion in 2018, reaching $621 billion, as imports continued to outpace exports. In December, the monthly gap hit a 10-year high. The timing of the announcement was almost poetic: It came just over a year after Trump tweeted that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” Democrats running in industrial states now have solid economic data for strongly criticizing Trump’s reckless trade policy.

Those who are interested in the future direction of the American left  should take time to read the much-buzzed about “The Future of the Party: A Progressive Vision for a Populist Democratic Party.” Written by Sean Mcelwee and Colin McAuliffe, co-founders of Data for Progress, the report offers three general conclusions, along with polling data on opinions and issues: 1. “This report shows that a pivot toward the “center” is poison with the Democratic primary electorate, using historical data to show the increasing liberalism of Democratic voters on core progressive values.” 2. “This report shows that marginal voters and nonvoters support key progressive policies and could form a durable base for the Democratic Party.” 3. “This report shows that many Democratic incumbents are failing their constituents by opposing progressive policies with broad-based support.”

in his article, “Mitch McConnell wants a Green New Deal vote. Democrats should take him up on it” at vox.com, David Roberts writes, “Though Democrats seem constitutionally incapable of recognizing it, they have the political advantage on climate change. They are on the right side of history. They own the issue, and it’s not going away. Polls show a steady surge of opinion toward concern over climate changeand support for clean energy (to say nothing of anger over income inequality and wage stagnation). Polls repeatedly show that the elements of the Green New Deal are wildly popular with the public, across parties….The GOP position on climate policy is “they’re taking your cows!” because they’ve got nothing else to say about it. Even many Republicans are realizing that’s an untenable position…For once, instead of tiptoeing hesitantly with their eyes over their shoulders on the latest polls, Democrats should show some confidence and leadership. They have science on their side and an exciting story to tell about economic renewal, jobs, and common purpose. It’s not Dems who should be scared of a serious debate on these subjects.”

Lest you be misled by the myriad versions of the ‘Democrats in Disarray’ meme, there are reforms that unify Democrats, such as the American Family Act, sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown and Michael Bennett, which would “slash child poverty in the United States by over a third” and bring the U.S. “in line with our peers in Canada, the United Kingdom, and most of the rich world in guaranteeing a basic payment for the care of children,” according to Dylan Matthews, writing at vox.com. Mathews notes, “Most important, in its latest incarnation, the bill has the support of the majority of the Democratic House and Senate caucuses, including the No. 2 Democrats in the House and Senate (Steny Hoyer and Dick Durbin, respectively); just about every possible Democratic 2020 contender currently in Congress from Tim Ryan in the House to Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren in the Senate; and leaders of both the moderate (Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Chris Coons) and left (Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) wings of the party. Thirty-five Democratic senators (out of 48 Democrats total) and 168 Democratic House Reps (out of 235) are sponsors or co-sponsors.”

In “The Pot Primary: 2020 Dem Candidates Flaunt Weed Bona Fides” at The Daily Beast, Matt Lasio reports that “The Democratic presidential candidates are racing to come up with headline-grabbing marijuana proposals as they chase America’s fast-changing beliefs.” Lasio notes that Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have led the way among Democratic presidential candidates in pushing for liberalization of weed laws, while Biden, Inslee and Hickenlooper have more slowly moved toward supporting relaxed pot laws.

In “Why Democrats Should Ignore the Chatter About Moving ‘Too Far Left’,” Joshua Holland notes at The Nation that “There’s good evidence suggesting that voters punish the two major parties for enacting their agendas, and it doesn’t seem to matter that much what those agendas are. In other words, in this highly polarized environment, electoral backlash is inevitable, regardless of whether or not a party is seen as moderate or tries to “find common ground” with its political opponents.” In addition, “several studies have found that voters don’t punish presidential candidates, at least, for taking positions that the pundits view as “extreme.” Summarizing the data in The Washington Post, George Washington University political scientist John Sides wrote that the data show “there is scarcely any penalty for being extreme…Political scientists Christopher Achens and Larry Bartels have argued convincingly that most voters just don’t have a solid grasp of public policy and take their cues from politicians they admire and other influential voices. So there is a danger that the media’s relentless drumbeat about these proposals supposedly being outside the mainstream could convince voters that the criticism has merit.

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Martin Lawford on

    In the 2018 elections in California, Republicans got 46% of the votes in the Senate race and 38% of the votes in the gubernatorial race. Yet, they got only 13% of the Congressional seats. Since it seems implausible that a voter would vote for a Republican Senator or governor, then vote for a Democratic Congressman, there must be some sort of gerrymandering going on. Otherwise, why would the Republicans do so much better in statewide races than in Congressional ones? Yet, California is one of the states which reapportions by a so-called independent commission, which seems to have gerrymandered the state as effectively as any state legislature could do. Imposing this on all states of the union is just a power grab by Congress and the voters are going to see it for what it is.


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