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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

In his New York Times column, Thomas B. Edsall reports that “It is not surprising that black and Hispanic Democrats moved to the left in response to Trump’s racist goading and baiting. Pew found that the percentage of black Democrats who agree that “the country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights to whites” rose from 82 percent in 2014 to 90 percent in 2017. The percentage of Democratic Hispanics who agreed with that statement grew from 59 to 76 percent…More surprising was the increase in support among white Democrats, many of whom are professionals with college degrees, for the view that the “country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights.” According to Pew, their support grew from 57 percent in 2014 to 80 percent in 2017…In a working paper, “Trumped by Race: Explanations for Race’s Influence on Whites’ Votes in 2016,” Andrew Engelhardt, a postdoctoral research associate in International and Public Affairs at Brown, makes the case that the percentage of racially liberal white Democrats grew from 19 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2016, as shown in the accompanying chart.”

“A number of scholars who study race and politics agree with Engelhardt’s conclusions, Edsall continues.  “Ashley Jardina, a political scientist at Duke and the author of the book “White Identity Politics,” wrote by email that Engelhardt’s “findings are consistent with some of my own analysis. I’ve found, as have others, that there was a notable shift in racial resentment in 2016, but only among Democrats, who became more racially liberal on the racial resentment scale.”…At the same time, one of the most striking facts to emerge from Engelhardt’s analysis is how far white Democrats have moved in a liberal direction on issues of race over the last three decades….In the period from 1988 to 1990, the level of racial resentment was almost the same among both white Democrats and white Republicans. In 1992, they began to diverge, as Republicans moved to the right and Democrats to the left on issues concerning race…For example, in 1988 the mean level of racial resentment, on a scale of 0 to 1, was .65 for white Republicans and .61 for white Democrats. By 2016, the mean for white Republicans rose to .70, but fell for white Democrats to .41. While the proportion of racially resentful white Republicans grew only slightly, the Trump campaign’s rhetoric raised the salience of race. Democrats, by contrast, grew increasingly liberal.”

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Theodore R. Johnson, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and expert on African-American voting patterns, explores the vital role that black voters will play in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary in an excerpt from his contribution to The Blue Wave: The 2018 Midterms and What They Mean for the 2020 Elections by Larry J. Sabato and Kyle Kondik. Among Johnson’s conclusions: “Black voters are a crucial voting bloc in the upcoming Democratic primary season, particularly in the South…White candidates with proven bona fides among black voters can compete for the black vote, even against other black candidates, as Joe Biden is showing (at least for now)…The differing backgrounds of Kamala Harris and Cory Booker provide each with unique avenues to appeal to black voters…Whites, not blacks, are driving the growth in liberal self-identification among Democrats.”

With the Supreme Court set to rule in the coming days on the legality of the Trump administration’s addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census,” Ari Berman writes at Mother Jones, “all eyes are on Roberts, now the court’s ostensible swing justice after the retirement of Anthony Kennedy. Many are wondering which Roberts we’ll see—the pragmatic justice who saved the Affordable Care Act in 2012 and has occasionally, as in the Buck case, sought to redress egregious instances of racial discrimination? Or the hard-edged conservative who wrote the majority opinion gutting the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and has spent much of his career trying to roll back civil rights for racial and ethnic minorities? His ruling in the census case will determine Roberts’ legacy—and that of the court he presides over—for many years to come…At stake is whether Roberts will allow the Trump administration to rig American politics for the next decade by corrupting the census, and turn the Supreme Court—which he has often said should stay above partisan politics—into an unmistakable ally of the Republican Party and white power. If the court upholds the administration’s addition of the question, experts say, it would reduce census participation by immigrants afraid of being targeted by the government and diminish the political power and economic resources of parts of the country where many immigrants live.”

In his New Yorker article, “What Are the Chances of Trump Being Reëlected?,” John Cassidy observes, “The good news for Trump is that he retains a solid base of support, and the demographic to which he has the strongest appeal—white Americans who don’t have a college degree—still represents a very big chunk of the electorate. Plus, the unemployment rate is just 3.5 per cent, and most Americans are optimistic about the economy. The bad news for the Trump campaign is that other demographic groups seem to have turned even more heavily against him, and a strong economy has failed to lift his approval ratings. Moreover, recent polls suggest that he is in trouble in a number of battleground states, including the three that were key to his victory last time: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.”

Michael Riley and Jordan Robertson report in “Russian Hacks on U.S. Voting System Wider Than Previously Known” at bloomberg.com that “Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported…Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said…“They’re coming after America,” [former F.B.I. Director James] Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the election. “They will be back.”…A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington declined to comment on the agency’s probe.”

Riley and Robertson continued, “Such operations need not change votes to be effective. In fact, the Obama administration believed that the Russians were possibly preparing to delete voter registration information or slow vote tallying in order to undermine confidence in the election. That effort went far beyond the carefully timed release of private communications by individuals and parties…“Last year, as we detected intrusions into websites managed by election officials around the country, the administration worked relentlessly to protect our election infrastructure,” said Eric Schultz, a spokesman for former President Barack Obama. “Given that our election systems are so decentralized, that effort meant working with Democratic and Republican election administrators from all across the country to bolster their cyber defenses.”

At FiveThirtyEight, Perry Bacon, Jr. shares an instructive chart in his post “Which Democratic Candidates Are The Most Progressive On Criminal Justice Issues?“:

Netroots Nation meets July 11-13 in Philadelphia. Some of the panels include: And She Could Be Next: The Rise of Women of Color as a Transformative Political Force; Is It Time for a General Strike?; and New Tech City? Smart Cities, Tech-Driven Development and Creating the Communities We Want; Making the Green New Deal Real; Tearing Down Cages: How We Divest from the ICE Police State and Invest in Thriving Communities; What Philly Taught Us: How Philadelphia Activists Beat School Privatization to Restore Local Control; Different Math: Candidates and Campaigns that Changed the Voter Landscape; For the People: How Primaries Build Power and Transform What is Possible; Equality at the Ballot Box: Lessons from Standing Rock; Don’t Put Digital in the Corner: Why Every Department Should be Using Digital Tools and Tactics; Field-Centric Data: Building Feedback Loops; and Relational Organizing Insights from the Field: Scaling for the 2019/2020 Cycle.

4 comments on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Candace on

    On some a different changes on the census:

    “2020 Census Will Ask White People More About Their Ethnicities
    The U.S. Census Bureau says it is adding a write-in area for the “White” category on the 2020 census questionnaire so that participants can provide their “origins.” Instructions on this form the bureau is using in a practice run of the 2020 census suggest examples of origins including “German,” “Irish,” “English,” “Italian,” “Lebanese,” and “Egyptian.”


    I like the idea of getting beyond black and white categories for origins of people in this country. Better yet though if race was removed and perhaps instead there could be a question asking about regions or a more specific location if you know it and/or a write in for ethnicities.
    It would be good for this country.

  2. Candace on

    One of my more enjoyable hobbies involves reading census info. (genealogy) and the citizenship question is always there.
    I figured there was something I was missing about this dispute and there was.

    [citizenship] was a standard question on census forms through 1950, then, for unexplained reasons, was omitted in 1960 for everyone except residents of New York City and Puerto Rico. Beginning in 1970 and continuing through 2000, the Census Bureau used two different questionnaires to gather information — a short form sent to more than 80 percent of American households which did not inquire about citizenship, and a long form distributed to fewer than 20 percent of American households which did. The long form was discontinued after 2000, so in 2010 every household received the short form — meaning, in effect, that no one was asked for citizenship data in that year’s decennial census. But it wasn’t because any questions were removed.

    By then, the Census Bureau was relying on another program called the American Community Survey (ACS) to collect most of the same data (including citizenship information) that the long form did, but on an ongoing, yearly basis instead of once a decade. That it’s still in use means that technically the Census Bureau never actually stopped asking the citizenship question, although since the 2000 census they have only asked it of around 3.5 million households (2.6 percent of the population) per year.

    The vast majority of Americans — the more than 80 percent who only filled out the short form during those years — wouldn’t have been asked about citizenship, because the question only appeared on the long form. And that form no longer exists.

    Strictly speaking, then, the Trump administration isn’t “reinstating” the citizenship question. They’re calling for it to be added to the short form that will be mailed to every American household in 2020.

    It won’t be the first time people are required to divulge their citizenship status on a U.S. census form, but it will be the first time since 1950 that everyone is required to do so”


  3. Candace on

    There’s a bit more to the point of what Edsall wrote and quoted concerning the Obama to Trump voters in the Midwest, Trump’s current election strategy with a warning for Democrats at the end.


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