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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Grace Sparks explains why “The majority of Americans tend to agree with Democrats on top issues, polling shows” at CNN Politics: “In reality, the polling shows the majority of the public usually backs policy positions preferred by the Democratic Party…A new Gallup poll released Thursday showed that two-thirds of Americans said protecting the environment should be a higher priority than economic growth and only three-in-10 who said economic growth should be given priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent. This is the highest prioritizing of the environment since spring 2000…Eight-in-10 Democrats and 71% of independents prioritize environmental protection, versus 35% of Republicans who said the same…Another poll out this week by Pew Research Center found that Americans’ biggest frustration regarding the country’s tax system isn’t the amount they pay, but that corporations and the wealthy don’t pay their fair share…Overall, 62% said that the feeling that some corporations don’t pay their fair share bothers them a lot and 60% said the same of wealthy people. Those are both made up of huge majorities of Democrats — 79% of Democrats who said those bother them a lot (on both). Independents were in a majority, as well, 62% who were bothered by corporations not paying their fair share, and 60% wealthy people, while 42% and 37% of Republicans said the same, respectively.”

Sparks continues: “Those are two examples but there are many other issues that fit under this umbrella, including immigration, gun control and abortion…- Guns, Quinnipiac University poll (March 1-4, 2019): 60% of registered voters support stricter gun laws in the US…87% of Democrats support stricter gun control laws…The border wall with Mexico, CNN poll conducted by SSRS (January 10-11): 56% oppose building a wall along the entire border with Mexico…89% of Democrats oppose building a wall along the whole of the southern border…A national “Medicare-for-all” plan, Kaiser Family Foundation (March 13-18): 56% have a favorable view…78% of Democrats have a favorable view of a potential national Medicare-for-all program…Abortion, Fox News poll (February 10-12): 57% of Americans said the Supreme Court should let Roe v Wade stand, 21% overturn…73% of Democrats don’t want Roe v. Wade overturned…Same-sex marriage, Gallup (May 1-10, 2018): 67% of Americans thought marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid…83% of Democrats want marriages between same-sex couples to be recognized by law.”

On immigration-related issues, Sparks notes that “There are some areas where the positions held by Democrats in Congress are also matters of bipartisan agreement among all voters….DACA, CNN poll conducted by SSRS (February 20-23, 2018): 83% of Americans said they want to continue the policy and allow immigrants who meet the qualifications to remain in the US.” A “Quinnipiac University poll (January 25-28, 2019): 75% of registered voters thought immigration is overall good for the country…There are issues where Republicans are a majority, but they are few and far between (for example, crime and justice, especially the death penalty). Importantly, the issues where the Republican position is the more popular opinion aren’t the ones that Republicans focus vote on when voting.”

John Harwood reports at cnbc.com that “As the annual IRS filing deadline of April 15 approaches, just 17% believe their own taxes will go down, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll shows. By contrast, 28% believe they’ll pay more, another 27% expect to pay about the same and 28% don’t know enough to say…In the NBC/WSJ poll, that sense of missing out is nonpartisan. Just 33% of Republicans believe they’re getting a tax cut, while an even punier 10% of independents and 7% of Democrats do…Among core Trump supporters, 36% believe they’re getting a tax cut. But another 36% say their taxes are staying the same, while 6% say they’re paying more to the IRS.”

The polls are looking pretty good for Democrats at this stage, but Nathaniel Rakich sounds a cautionary note at FiveThirtyEight: “By our count, nine pollsters have polled either the same state or the entire nation more than once since the 2018 midterm elections, which is when we started collecting 2020 primary polls. But none of these pollsters have kept the same list of candidates for every poll — although some have been more consistent than others. This means great care must be taken in declaring a candidate is surging — or struggling — even when comparing his numbers in polls from the same pollster.1…The good news is that, in most polls, the candidates who are rotated in or out are polling poorly, so it doesn’t make a huge difference whether they’re included or excluded. Plus, there can be good reasons for a pollster to update the roster of candidates it asks about; it’s important that a poll reflect the most up-to-date state of the race (e.g., Bloomberg looks like less of a factor now than he did in December, and Buttigieg looks like more of one)…This is especially true since getting at least 1 percent support in three national polls is one of two ways a candidate can qualify for the first two Democratic primary debates (the other is through fundraising).”

Oliver Willis notes at shareblue.com that “Trump approval tanks in 5 swing states he won in 2016,” and he writes: “In Morning Consult’s most recent survey, Trump is down in the following swing states: Florida (-24 points), Ohio (-20), Michigan (-19), Wisconsin (-18), and Pennsylvania (-17)…In 2016, Trump won all of those states, which together represent 93 electoral votes. Trump’s electoral vote margin of victory was 74 points that year…”

At New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore shares a positive sign of growing Democratic solidarity around working-class issues: “The good news for labor folk is that the Democratic Party as a whole seems more in sync with union interests and policy positions than at any time in recent memory. Candidates with a history of coziness toward Wall Street, Silicon Valley, or big donors are for the most part repenting, and on issues ranging from the minimum wage to trade to labor law are expressing an unusual degree of solidarity…Any “heartland strategy” for Democrats in 2020 will most definitely include a major effort to convince union members and their families that Trump has broken his promises to them. Perhaps this time labor won’t be licking wounds from internal divisions over the primaries.”

The New Republic’s Alex Shepard has some thoughts on whether Democratic candidates should go on Fox News: “The debate over whether Democrats should engage with Fox is a microcosm of the broader debate within the Democratic Party about engaging with Trump voters. Just as many Democrats believe that appearing anywhere on Fox legitimizes the network’s most offensive bloviators, many believe that courting Trump voters will require legitimizing the president’s views. Both fears are understandable, but quite overblown. If Democrats want to win back white voters—and that’s a big “if”—they need to meet those voters where they are…The argument against Democrats appearing on Fox News is that it would only serve to legitimize a network whose existential purpose is to excite Republican voters…The argument for Democrats appearing on Fox News is that winning back the older white rural voters is important if the party wants to win back the White House in 2020, something that has obsessed some in the party since the midwestern “blue wall” crumbled in 2016—and how can you do that without engaging with those voters?”

On the other hand, Shepard writes, “Fox is in essence a retirement community,” New York magazine’s Frank Rich wrote in an astute piece about Fox published back in 2014. “The million or so viewers who remain fiercely loyal to the network are not, for the most part, and as some liberals still imagine, naïve swing voters who stumble onto Fox News under the delusion it’s a bona fide news channel and then are brainwashed by Ailes’s talking points into becoming climate-change deniers…Letting Fox News host a Democratic debate doesn’t make sense for the DNC, given the network’s antipathy toward the party. But there’s no reason for candidates to cower, either.”

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