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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In FiveThirtyEight’s insightful forum, “Is The Senate Really A Better Option For Some Presidential Candidates?,” political analyst Geoffrey Skelley explains why the senate seart of Maine’s Susan Collins is a prime p[ick-up opportunity for Democrats: “Collins remains relatively popular in Maine, although her approval rating isn’t as high as it used to be — in 2017, Morning Consult found her approval rating north of 60 percent, but in the first quarter of 2019, it was 52 percent…But, yeah, besides Colorado, Maine is the only other GOP-held Senate seat that’s up in a state that isn’t Republican-leaning — in fact, it’s 5 points more Democratic than the nation as a whole, and Trump lost it by 3 points in 2016. So it’s vital for Democrats that they compete there, especially since Democrats need a net gain of three seats to win the Senate (if they also win the presidency; otherwise they need to pick up four seats). And Alabama is going to be very difficult for Democrats to hold.” But Democrats still need a good candidate to make a go fo it.

From “Pelosi’s Agenda Is Popular — Much More So Than Impeaching Trump” by Perry Bacon, Jr. also at FiveThirtyEight:

The Pelosi agenda vs. impeachment

Americans’ views on provisions in the six bills from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s agenda that have passed the House vs. Americans’ views on starting impeachment proceedings against President Trump

Background checks for nearly all gun sales Quinnipiac May 16-20, 2019 94% 4%
Path to citizenship for some undocumented young people Quinnipiac Jan. 5-9, 2018 79 18
Banning discrimination based on sexual orientation/gender identity PRRI June 27-July 8, 2018 71 22
Allowing felons to vote post-incarceration Pew Research Sept. 24-Oct. 7, 2018 69 30
Automatic voting registration Pew Research Sept. 24-Oct. 7, 2018 65 34
Making Election Day a federal holiday Pew Research Sept. 24-Oct. 7, 2018 65 34
Allowing same-day voter registration nationally Pew Research Sept. 24-Oct. 7, 2018 64 35
Keeping U.S. in Paris climate agreement Quinnipiac Sept. 21-26, 2017 60 30
Barring companies from asking about your previous pay SurveyMonkey March 23-27, 2019 52 43
Starting impeachment proceeding against President Trump CNN May 28-31, 2019 41% 54%

Despite a majority of Americans oposing impeachment at the political moment, a slightly larger majority believes that Trump engaged in crimes prior to becomming president, and that, if evidence supports that belief, he should be held accountable. “A large majority of voters, or 57%, believe Trump “committed crimes before he took office,” according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday,” Emily SInger notes at ShareBlue. “And, a whopping 69% of voters say that sitting presidents should be subject to criminal indictment if there is evidence they committed crimes, the poll found.”

Chloe Reichel writes at Journalist’s Resource that “A new study in JAMA Cardiology looks at the difference in death rates attributed to cardiovascular causes, including heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmia-related death, stroke, and diseases of the aorta and blood vessels. The key finding: middle-aged people who live in states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA are less likely to die of heart disease…Sameed Khatana and his co-authors find that counties in Medicaid expansion states had, on average, 4.3 fewer deaths per 100,000 residents per year than counties in states that did not expand Medicaid. Put another way, mortality rates among residents in non-expansion states increased over the six years studied – from 2010 to 2016 – while mortality rates among residents in expansion states stayed flat.”

“Democratic voters also don’t seem convinced yet that the party should be rushing to pass single-payer as soon as possible,” note Dylan Scott and Li Zhou at vox.com.  “A CNN survey found that a little fewer than half of potential Iowa caucus-goers think supporting Medicare-for-all is a “must-have” for them to consider supporting any of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll last summer found 37 percent of Democratic voters consider a candidate’s position on Medicare-for-all the single most important factor in picking a candidate in 2018 versus 45 percent that said it was very important but not the most important issue. Other surveys have indicated Democrats would prioritize improving the Affordable Care Act over passing single-payer.”

At CNN Politics, Caroline Kelly reports that “Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill Wednesday that would grant the state’s electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote, her office confirmed…Oregon is the 15th state to join the National Popular State compact, an agreement established by each participating states’ laws to put its electoral votes toward the winner of the national popular vote, instead of the state’s own popular vote. The compact will only go into effect if the cumulative total of the states’ electoral votes surpasses the 270 necessary for a majority, which would require states that voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 to sign on…Oregon’s seven electoral votes push the running total to 196. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington state and the District of Columbia have all joined the pact.”

In “Bernie’s New Deal: Sanders makes the case that FDR was actually a socialist,” Jim Newell observes at slate.com, “By shoehorning FDR’s New Deal vision into the umbrella of democratic socialism, Sanders tried to inoculate himself against the socialism attacks that, as he conceded in the speech, his opponents would use to sink him. That was the point of the speech, it seems: Sanders can’t pretend that he has never called himself a socialist, since he’s been doing so for decades. What he can do is try to define his “socialism” as an extension of the New Deal programs that voters know and love—even if they’re not really socialism.” Sanders is correct that FDR’s policies fit nicely into the “democratic socialist” model, and you really don’t need much of a ‘shoehorn’ to make the case. However, recent polls indicate that Sanders may have been out-maneuvered by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who shares many of his policies, but avoids red-baiting by saying she wants to save capitalism with reforms. Yet, even with 23 Democratic presidential candidates, not one has called out the false choice between the two ideologies, and acknowleged the reality that every one of the candidates embraces a mixture of both socialist and capitalist policies.

At Brookings, Douglas Harris shares “8 reasons why education may be pivotal in the 2020 election (and beyond)”  and notes, “Among politicos, education is not usually considered a top-tier issue in presidential elections. The issue tends to get overshadowed by other issues where the president is the obvious leader and decisionmaker—defense, security, climate change, health care, Social Security, and economic affairs. Education, in contrast, has been seen as a state and local issue. But times have changed, especially when it comes to Democratic primaries…For all of these reasons, education will be a major issue on the minds of Democratic voters. One poll has it among the top five issues for Democratic voters. Only health care beats it (and only slightly). This rising importance may also be long-lasting.”

So what would happen if Rep. Justin Amash ran for president in 2020 as a Libertarian. Washington Monthly’s Martin Longman concludes that, “Normally, you’d expect the libertarian candidate to cut more deeply into the Republican candidate’s base than the Democrat’s, but that is not a certainty. It might even cut in different directions depending on the state. A lot will depend on how comfortable the Democrats’ affluent white suburban professional base is with the their nominee. They may seek a middle option to register their disapproval, just as many are suspected to have done in 2016. Romney would be an easier landing place for them than Amash, but he might also soak up #NeverTrump votes that would otherwise go to the Democrat…When we talk about whether the smarter Democratic strategy is to run to the left or the center, the answer could depend on who the Libertarians are running and what kind of support they can pick up in different scenarios.”

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