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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Democratic candidates have been pretty passive about promoting their party, which may help explain  why the party underperforms in polls. The thinking of too many Democratic candidates at all levels seems to be something like “The party doesn’t do well in polls, so I won’t talk about it much. I’ll just emphasize my individual accomplishments and bash Republicans.” But it’s not enough to assume, for example, that everyone knows Democrats have spearheaded the charge for needed economic reforms, such as a minimum wage increase. Dems should say, again and again that they, almost alone, have passed minimum wage bills across America over strident GOP opposition. At U.S. News, Susan Milligan reports that “A recent economic journal paper – considered the most comprehensive modern look at the impact of state and local minimum wage increases – analyzes 138 minimum wage increases over the past five years. The result? Pretty much what the proponents intended, says Arindrajit Dube, a professor at the University of Massachusetts—Amherst and one of the study’s authors.“..What we found was these policies have the intended consequence of raises wages at the bottom” of the income scale and “have some degree of spillover beyond the minimum wage,” since other employers tend to hike their own wages when the minimum wage increases…“ Brag more, Dems, about your party’s leadership, not just your own. That’s one way we can improve the party’s image.

Mueller is done, but Democratic presidential candidates, and perhaps all Democratic candidates and political reporters should read “Here Are the Questions a Shrink Would Have Asked Mueller: Three psychiatrists analyzed the Mueller Report to assess the president’s soundness of mind. Their conclusion: This is a national emergency” by Bandy X. Lee, Edwin B. Fisher, And Leonard L. Glass at The Daily Beast. The shrinks are the authors of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” and their questions open up some critical concerns for further consideration. The last question, in particular, hits the core concern squarely: “5) As a prosecutor, do you see a nexus between the president’s hate speech and danger to others as targets of his rhetoric?” Read the questions and answers for some useful insights regarding how to discuss Trump’s mental health.

Next time somebody gives you the old “Congress is bought off by the NRA” false equivalence routine, just show them this list of 178 co-sponsors of H.R. 5087, the 2018 bill to ban assault-style weapons, 177 of whom are Democrats.

Also check out “Here’s where every 2020 candidate stands on guns: The candidates agree on universal background checks and an assault weapons ban. There’s less agreement on other proposals” by German Lopez at Vox. Lopez notes, “President Donald Trump, for his part, doesn’t seem interested in much. He has supported a federal red flag law, which would allow police to take away someone’s guns if there’s some proof of a risk of violence (a “red flag”). But on other measures, from universal background checks to an assault weapons ban, Trump and Republican lawmakers have resisted, instead talking up questionable connections between violence, mental illness, and violent media…Democratic candidates, however, have taken more comprehensive stances on guns. For the most part, they’re sticking to common Democratic themes like universal background checks, an assault weapons ban (which is typically paired with a ban on high-capacity magazines), and federally funded research into gun violence. But the campaigns’ plans do include some new ideas here and there — including red flag laws, which campaigns ranging from Cory Booker’s to John Delaney’s back, and requiring a license to buy and own a gun, which Booker in particular brought to the presidential stage but others, like Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, also support.” Lopez provides more details on the positions of each candidate.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans see felon disenfranchisement as the cruel, pointless and counterproductive punishment that it is. It serves no purpose other than to prevent millions of Americans from more fully participating in society. That’s why many states have loosened or gotten rid of their felon disenfranchisement laws in recent years. Vermont and Maine have gone even further, allowing people in prison to vote — as is the case in most European countries. Last time we checked, all are still functioning democracies. — A choice paragraph from the NYT editorial, “Why Are Florida Republicans So Afraid of People Voting?

In other voter suppression news, you may have missed “New Hampshire’s Republican governor just vetoed a bipartisan redistricting commission” by Danielle McLean at Think Progress. Among her observations: “New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a bipartisan bill Friday that would have allowed an independent redistricting committee to redraw the state’s legislative and congressional district maps in 2021 and beyond…The veto is just the latest sign that Republican Party leaders want to control the map-making process and preserve a system that allowed them to racially and politically gerrymander at historic proportions in several GOP-controlled states the last time district lines were redrawn in 2011…While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled this year that federal courts do not have the power to decide partisan gerrymandering cases, a growing number of states have established independent commissions to draw district maps in a non-partisan manner. New Hampshire would have joined eight other states to have established such a commission…Under the current system, New Hampshire’s legislature, which is currently controlled by Democrats, is responsible for drawing up the state’s political lines. The governor has the ability to veto or approve any maps.”

McLean continues, “Heading into 2021, Republicans appear poised to once again gerrymander and leave the process up to the lawmakers themselves…Next week, the shadowy group that crafts far-right legislation, the American Legislative Exchange Council, at its annual meeting in Austin, Texas, will host a pair of closed-door workshops teaching state lawmakers the basics of ‘redistricting.’ Government watchdog groups warn those panels will in reality teach them how to gerrymander and pair them with the mapmakers that can help them draw partisan lines…Last year, ALEC created a model resolution that reaffirmed “the right of state legislatures to determine electoral districts” instead of the courts…And former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) — who helped usher Wisconsin’s extreme gerrymandered districts in 2011 and is now leading the GOP’s redistricting efforts in 2021 as the finance chair of the National Republican Redistricting Trust — has also claimed that rural residents should be counted more than urban residents when the maps are drawn.”

Nate Silver shares a revealing chart in his post, “Forget ‘Lanes.’ The Democratic Primary Is A Whole Freaking Transit System” at FiveThirtyEight:

Who Sanders and Clinton voters from 2016 support now

Combined results from a July 6-8 and a July 27-29 national poll

Bernie Sanders 9% 31%
Joe Biden 43 19
Elizabeth Warren 15 13
Kamala Harris 18 10
Pete Buttigieg 4 6
Andrew Yang 0 5
Beto O’Rourke 2 4
Tulsi Gabbard 0 3
Cory Booker 1 1
Others 7 8


At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Alan I. Abramowitz deploys some regression analysis and scatterplotting to answer the question, “Did Russian Interference Affect the 2016 Election Results? and concludes, “I find no evidence that Russian attempts to target voters in key swing states had any effect on the election results in those states. Instead, the results were almost totally predictable based on the political and demographic characteristics of those states, especially their past voting tendencies, ideological leanings, and demographics. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Russians weren’t trying to influence the results or that they might not succeed in the future. Nor does it speak to Russian efforts to hack into U.S. voting systems and potentially alter voter registration data or even election results themselves…There are plenty of grounds for real concern here. Indeed, the Electoral College system used to choose the president almost invites efforts to interfere in the election. Whereas trying to affect the national popular vote results would probably be prohibitively expensive, efforts to target a few key swing states could be much more cost-effective and harder to detect. As a result, there is little doubt that these efforts will continue in 2020 and beyond, especially if we have a president who seems to be inviting them.”

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