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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Let’s have a hearty ‘Amen” for Ian Millhiser’s post, “Democrats don’t need any more presidential candidates. They need senators: Let us all take a moment to praise Sherrod Brown” at ThinkProgress. In one graph, Millhiser writes, “Other Democrats, such as Texas’ Beto O’Rourke or Colorado’s John Hickenlooper, would do well to follow Brown’s example and run for Senate and not the presidency.” Brown’s presidential candidacy would have almost certainly given the Republicans another Senate seat. Hickenlooper and O’Rourke didn’t take Millhiser’s advice, and may have booted two possible pick-ups for Dems. Millhiser continues, “If Democrats win the presidency, but lose the Senate in 2020, Republican partisans like Mitch McConnell, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh are likely to sabotage the next president’s entire term — and then force that president to run for reelection with no accomplishments whatsoever.” Really, after Biden enters the race, the spectrum of Democratic beliefs will be well-represented by a host of solid candidates.

But among those Democrats who are running for president , Ronald Brownstein sees a problem developing among announced candidates: “The sprawling Democratic field is already so large, and so diverse in race and gender, that strategists are expecting tough competition in the early stages for almost every group of voters imaginable. But there’s one potential exception to that pattern: older voters. Even in a rapidly diversifying party, it’s virtually certain that most Democratic primary voters next year will be older than 45. Yet most of the top-tier candidates look best suited to compete for younger voters, an imbalance that grew more lopsided with the announcement from O’Rourke, who connected powerfully with youthful audiences during his narrow loss in last fall’s Senate race in Texas…And for all of the candidates already jostling in the race, relatively few alternatives might be able to compete with Biden for middle-aged, middle-of-the-road voters, particularly in the middle of the country…This potential mismatch between the pools of voters and candidates looms so large because, even amid all of the party’s other demographic changes, older voters constitute a surprisingly large share of the Democratic primary electorate. Fully 60 percent of primary voters in 2016 were 45 or older, according to an analysis of all 27 exit polls that year conducted by the CNN polling director, Jennifer Agiesta. And while the Democratic primary electorate is growing more racially diverse, about two-thirds of those relatively older primary voters were white.”

In his post, “There Aren’t Many True Independents, and They Aren’t Into Politics” at New York Magazine’s Intelligencer, Ed Kilgore notes, “The most interesting thing about the small tribe of true indies is that they are significantly less politically engaged than independent leaners, who are in turn less engaged than out-and-out partisans. Only about a third of true indies report having voted in the 2018 midterms. It’s likely many of them aren’t turned off by partisan extremism and longing for centrist savior, but rather turned off by politics generally. This means they are difficult to persuade and even harder to mobilize.” Also, “In truth, much of what you read about independents reflects the dynamics of partisan leaners canceling each other out. So that big, potentially irresistible force poised between the two parties is mostly a figment of the imagination.”

Turns out, “Most Americans have confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional Democrats, as both investigate aspects of President Trump and his administration, according to a new Hill-HarrisX poll,” Matthew Sheffield reports at The Hill. “The survey, released Monday, found that 19 percent of registered voters trust Mueller the most, followed by 10 percent who chose Democrats. Twenty eight percent of respondents said they trust the special counsel and Democratic lawmakers equally…Fifty-seven percent said they trusted Mueller and Democrats, while 43 percent said they didn’t trust either of them. That figure is in line with the 45 percent of registered voters who approved of Trump’s job performance in a recent Hill-HarrisX poll…Older respondents were least likely to have faith in the congressional and special counsel inquiries. A 52 percent majority of voters between the ages of 50 and 64 said they trusted neither Mueller nor congressional Democrats, as did 47 percent of voters who were 65 and older.Thirty-nine percent of respondents between the ages of 35 and 49 said they did not trust Mueller or congressional Democrats to investigate Trump. Voters between the ages of 18 and 34 had even more confidence in the two investigations, with 34 percent saying they did not trust them.”

At The Atlantic, Adam Serwer’s “White Nationalism’s Deep American Roots” probes the ‘literary’ foundations and influence of white supremacy, anti-semitism and eugenics, supported by Presidents Harding and Coolidge and reaching expression in the Immigration Act of 1924. Among Serwer’s insights: “It was america that taught us a nation should not open its doors equally to all nations,” Adolf Hitler told The New York Times…Elsewhere he admiringly noted that the U.S. “simply excludes the immigration of certain races. In these respects America already pays obeisance, at least in tentative first steps, to the characteristic völkisch conception of the state.”…What the Nazis “found exciting about the American model didn’t involve just eugenics,” observes James Q. Whitman, a professor at Yale Law School and the author of Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law (2017). “It also involved the systematic degradation of Jim Crow, of American deprivation of basic rights of citizenship like voting.” Nazi lawyers carefully studied how the United States, despite its pretense of equal citizenship, had effectively denied that status to those who were not white…They examined cases that drew, as Thind’s had, arbitrary but hard lines around who could be considered “white.” Serwer goes on to explain that modern-day proponents of “nativism,” including Trump advisors, built on these foundations to influence Trumpism. Serwer adds, “to recognize the homegrown historical antecedents of today’s rhetoric is to call attention to certain disturbing assumptions that have come to define the current immigration debate in America—in particular, that intrinsic human worth is rooted in national origin, and that a certain ethnic group has a legitimate claim to permanent political hegemony in the United States.”

Jim Kessler and Ryan Zamarripa argue at The Daily Beast that “Democrats Need to Understand That This Election Will Be Won—or Lost—in Places Like Lordstown, Ohio: Democratic candidates are mostly from blue bubbles, and so is their base. But unless they talk to people in struggling cities and small towns, they will lose.” The authors note that “while Democrats, activists, and progressive intellectuals have railed against the evils of wealth concentration and income inequality, they have paid scant attention to a more pernicious, salient, and politically roiling problem: the concentration of opportunity in America…Consider Queens County and Trumbull County (where Lordstown is located). Between 2005 and 2015, Queens added 7,577 new businesses and gained 78,756 new jobs. Over those same 10 years, Trumbull County lost 592 businesses and shed 11,704 jobs. To put that into perspective, one-seventh of the businesses and jobs in this one Ohio county disappeared. As Queens rocketed forward, the economy in Trumbull resembled a depression…The vast differences between the very wealthy and the rest of us are an everyday reminder in the urban cores of the Blue Bubble. But in the rest of the country, it’s kitchen-table concerns like jobs, wages, and basic benefits that are more tangible and urgent…That is why Democrats need to make opportunity their uniting cause. They need to focus on economic issues that vast swaths of the country can relate to. Spreading the opportunity to earn a good life to more people and places would unite the disparate factions of the party.”

At The Optimistic Leftist, Ruy Teixeira argues “Underrating Trump could also lead Democrats to make bad decisions about the map. It would be easy for Democratic politicians to look at Trump’s low approval numbers, the growing number of Asian American and Latino voters, and conclude that they should de-emphasize the Midwest (or take the region for granted) and run hard in long-term targets such as Georgia, Arizona and Texas so they can run up the electoral college score…Democrats shouldn’t do that. They should try to play on a broad map that includes Midwestern swing states as well as suburban, diversifying America. It’s smart for Democrats to try to get Republicans to spend money and effort on Georgia and Arizona, but Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin are still arguably the lowest hanging fruit and the best route to 270 electoral votes.”

“Trump loses if working people learn how he has betrayed them…To elevate this may be next to impossible…House committees will detail Trump’s perverse budget, which slashes funding for the EPA and food stamps, and renews the attack on health care, cutting everything from Medicare to Obamacare. But all this is too often swamped by the media fixation on Trump and his scandals…Democrats would have to exercise unimaginable discipline—ignoring Trump’s provocations, and the media’s fixations—to focus attention on the true betrayals…No matter how difficult it is, House Democrats have to put real energy in this mission.”  — From “Democrats Must Expose Trump’s Betrayal of Working People: Forget the scandals and the tweets. What really matters is the looting” by Robert L. Borosage at The Nation.

In “Court-Packing Is Not a Threat to American Democracy. It’s Constitutional. Congress is allowed to change the size of the Supreme Court, and it has done so seven times. The country survived just fine” by Tim Burns in The New Republic, he writes: “Courts can, and have at times, stagnated our government’s ability to respond to critical political and economic issues of the day. That is exactly what is happening today. A Supreme Court majority, sharing a constitutional vision that harkens back to the days when political power was enjoyed by only a landed, male, white aristocracy, is preventing our democratic processes from solving problems that go to the very heart of our democracy. The court’s conservatives stand in the way of our efforts to keep dark money out of politics, to prevent the suppression of the voting rights of people of color, and to solve the polarization that has come with political gerrymandering…it’s no accident that the Constitution grants Congress the right to make the Supreme Court as large or small as it likes. Having the ability to change the composition of the Court in this way ensures that Congress has the power to prevent stagnant visions of our law from threatening the growth of our democracy.”

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