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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Some stats on the age of Democratic voters from Harry Enten’s post, “The Democratic electorate is older, more moderate and less educated than you think” at CNN Politics: “There’s a case to be made that Democrats are younger than they were at the beginning of the decade. Those younger than the age of 40, for example, made up 6 more points of the Democratic vote in the 2018 midterm than they did in the 2010 midterm, according to a Catalist (a Democratic firm) estimate of the national voter file. The exit polls illustrate a similar trend…But even if Democrats are younger than they once were, Millennials and Generation Z voters (roughly those younger than 40) are still very much the minority of Democrats. They made up just about 29% of all Democratic voters in the 2018 midterm, per Catalist. In fact even when you add in those 40 to 49 years old, you still only account for about 44% of Democratic voters in 2018. In other words, the AARP demographic (age 50 and older) were the majority (56%) of 2018 Democratic voters, per Catalist. And in case you were wondering, those ages 65 and older (27%) made up about double the percentage of Democrats who were younger than 30 (14%)…The exit polls can differ slightly on the exact level each age group makes up of the electorate, though all sources agree that a majority of Democratic voters are age 45 and older. That’s a big deal when age was the No. 1 predictor of vote choice in the 2016 primary and continues to be a primary driver of vote choice in early 2020 polling.”

Enten continues, “Whether it be the exit polls, Gallup or the Pew Research Center, there’s no doubt Democrats are more liberal than they once were. In the exit polls, for example, the percentage of Democratic voters who identify as liberal rose by double-digits between the Democratic midterm blowouts of 2006 and 2018…Still, moderates and conservatives make up about 50% of all Democrats. In the 2018 midterms, the exit polls found that moderates and conservatives made up 54% of those who voted Democratic. Pew similarly put moderate and conservative Democrats as 54% of all self-identified Democrats and independents who lean Democratic voters in 2018. Gallup’s 2018 figures had moderates as 47% of all adults who self-identified as Democrats…And while liberals make up about 50% of Democrats, many of them are only “somewhat liberal.” In a Quinnipiac University poll taken last month, people who identified as “very liberal” were only 19% of all Democrats and independents who leaned Democratic. Very liberals made up the same 19% of those who said they were voting Democratic in Suffolk University’s final 2018 pre-election poll. The 2016 primary exit polls discovered that about 25% of Democratic primary voters called themselves very liberal…Put another way: the moderate/conservative wing of the Democratic Party likely still makes up at least 2 times as much of the party’s voters than the very liberal flank.”

And, if you were wondering what percentage of Democratic voters lack a college degree, Enten writes, “Democratic voters are still more likely to lack a college degree. According to Catalist, about 59% of voters [all races] who cast a ballot for the Democrats in 2018 didn’t have a college degree. Gallup and Pew have the percentage of self-identified without a college degree well into the 60s. The exit polls, which historically have painted a better educated electorate than other sources, found about 55% of 2018 Democratic voters lacking a college degree…Even among white Democrats, there are still many voters who have no college degree. Among whites, Catalist calculates the percentage of 2018 Democratic voters without a college degree at about 54%, compared to 46% who had a college degree. Gallup and Pew have the percentage of self-identified Democrats without a college degree in the high 50s among whites. The exit poll had them as a slight minority at 48% of voters who went for the Democrats in 2018…When you broaden it out to look at all Democratic voters, all the sources I could find have whites with a college degree as less than a third of all Democrats. Most have them at less than 30%…As the Washington Post’s David Byler put it, “Democrats should stop chasing Trump’s base. They have their own white working-class voters.”

Every political junkie should take a look at Stephen Wolf’s “Check out our maps and extensive guide on the demographics of every congressional district at Daily Kos. Here’s just one of his impressive graphics:

Democratic candidates and campaign workers should read German Lopez’s “Marijuana legalization is very popular: In the three major national surveys, support for legalization is at an all-time high” at vox.com. An excerpt: “The three major national polls in America are increasingly converging on one point: Marijuana legalization is very popular in the US…The latest finding, from the recently released General Social Survey by NORC at the University of Chicago, shows that 61 percent of people supported marijuana legalization in 2018. That’s up from 57 percent in 2016 and 31 percent in 2000 — a rapid shift in public opinion in less than two decades…The other two big national surveys on the topic have found similar results. Gallup put support for marijuana legalization at 66 percent in 2018, up from from 60 percent in 2016 and 31 percent in 2000. Pew put it at 62 percent in 2018, up from 57 percent in 2016 and 31 percent in 2000.”

“To coincide with Tax Day, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is rolling out digital ads on Monday attacking 12 Republicans for the GOP tax plan that passed during the 115th Congress,”  Simone Pathe writes in “Democrats launch Tax Day ad attack aimed at GOP overhaul” at Roll Call. “The new Facebook ads, obtained first by Roll Call, signal Democrats will continue to use the 2017 tax overhaul, which passed with only Republican votes, as a key part of their economic message heading into 2020, when the party will be trying to protect their midterm gains and expand the map by investing heavily in such places as Texas…Democrats made the Republican tax overhaul — especially the new $10,000 cap on the federal deduction for state and local taxes — a key part of the party’s messaging in 2018, when Democrats gained a net of 40 seats in the House. That surge was fueled by gains in New Jersey, New York, Illinois and California, where residents rely more heavily on the deduction.”

Laila Lalami writes at The Nation: “Whatever happens in 2020, expecting transformative change from the top is a recipe for disappointment. If Democrats want to deliver on their big promises, they have to work on the small ones first. Last month, for example, I attended a fund-raiser for the Virginia House of Delegates’ Danica Roem. As far as political events go, this one wasn’t huge or loud or flashy. It was simply an opportunity to hear from Roem, who made history in 2017 as the first trans woman to be seated in a statehouse—and who did so by defeating a 26-year GOP incumbent who has called himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe.” Her winning strategy? Focusing on the needs of her district, specifically traffic issues on State Route 28. It’s this unglamorous work that we need to be doing if we want to have any chance of making serious change…Let’s leave salvation to the prophets and work on saving ourselves. And that begins by treating our candidates like the public servants we expect them to be.”

At Roll Call, Lindsey McPhereson notes some Democratic ideas for financing a major infrastructure program, which can create needed jobs at a living wage: “The difficulty of avoiding a “stimulus,” or a federal investment that’s not offset, becomes greater the more Democrats want to spend. Pelosi said she wants the government to invest at least $1 trillion in infrastructure, preferably $2 trillion…Democrats are committed to finding ways to pay for an infrastructure package but have yet to coalesce around any one proposal…Members at the retreat mentioned at least four different ideas: Hoyer favors a gas tax increase; Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chairman David Cicilline wants to roll back the GOP tax law for revenue; CPC Co-chair Mark Pocan floated a high speed financial transaction fee; and Kildee, a tax writer, suggested investment bonds.”

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik explains that “the [Democraticocra] voting calendar is so frontloaded that a nominee may emerge relatively early in the process…Based on the tentative early primary and caucus calendar, nearly two-thirds of the pledged delegates will be awarded from early February to mid-March.” Kondik provides the following chart to illustrate:

Table 1: Tentative schedule of Democratic nominating contests, early February through mid-March 2020


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