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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall flags an ominous trend for Democrats: “First: Heading into the 2020 election, President Trump is on track to far surpass President Barack Obama’s record in collecting small donor contributions — those under $200 — lending weight to his claim of populist legitimacy…Second: Democratic candidates and their party committees are making inroads in gathering contributions from the wealthiest of the wealthy, the Forbes 400, a once solid Republican constituency. Democrats are also pulling ahead in contributions from highly educated professionals — doctors, lawyers, tech executives, software engineers, architects, scientists, teachers and so on…These knowledge class donors, deeply hostile to Trump, propelled the fund-raising success of Democratic House candidates in 2018 — $1 billion to the Republicans’ $661 million…While there are advantages for Democrats in gaining support from previously Republican-leaning donors, this success carries costs. In winning over the high-tech industry, the party has acquired a constituency at odds with competing Democratic interest groups, especially organized labor and consumer protection proponents. Picking up rich backers also reinforces the image of a party dominated by elites.”

A chart to ponder from Philip Bump’s “A central 2020 question for Democrats: How critical are working-class white voters?” at The Washington Post:

(Philip Bump/The Washington Post)

Bonnie Chiu reports at Forbes, “The 2018 midterm elections in the U.S. saw an unprecedented number of women of color being elected to office–bringing their total number at the Congress (both House and Senate) to an all-time high, at 47. A new reporthelps us to understand how this was achieved, suggests that this was not an accident and will likely define 2020 elections…2018 marks the watershed moment in political mobilization of women of color in U.S. history. A new report, published by the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Civic Engagement Fund and Groundswell Fund, examines the unprecedented and often ignored role of women of color in the 2018 Midterm elections. The report highlights that the increase of non-white congresswomen correlates with a rising turnout of non-white female voters…“When you look at turnout as a percentage of the citizen voting age population in previous midterms, the numbers for 2006, 2010, 2014 were 39%, 39%, and 35%, respectively. In 2018, the figure was 48%,” says Taeku Lee, Professor of Political Science and Law at the University of California, Berkeley and principal researcher for this report. This represents a 37% increase among women of color voters compared to 2016. This huge uptick has not been found among other groups…The report finds that turnout was fuelled by women of color talking to and encouraging their friends and family to vote. Black women led the way with 84% mobilizing friends and family, followed by 76% of AAPI women, 72% of Native American women, 70% of Latinas, and 66% of white women.”

At Salon.com, Igor Derysh writes, “Republicans are expected to win 65 percent of close presidential races in which they lose the popular vote as a result of the Electoral College and the blue-state concentration of Democrats, according to a new working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research…Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin looked at the probability of “inversions” in presidential elections, where the popular-vote winner loses the electoral vote. These inversions happened in 2000 and 2016 and twice in the 1800s, meaning that the candidate with the most votes has lost 8 percent of the time in the last 200 years…Using statistical models that predicted an inversion in the 2000 and 2016 races, the researchers found that the probability of the popular vote winner losing the electoral vote is about 40 percent in races decided by 1 percent (about 1.3 million votes) and roughly 30 percent in races decided by 2 percent (2.6 million votes) or less…But these probabilities are “not symmetric across political parties,” the researchers say. Over the past 30 to 60 years, this asymmetry has favored Republicans. The statistical models used in the research predict that in the event of an inversion, “the probability that it will be won by a Republican ranges from 69 percent to 93 percent.”

From E. J. Dionne, Jr”s “Striking workers are the ones who saved GM” at The Washington Post: “Unions get knocked for being unconcerned about the health of the companies they organize. The UAW showed how untrue this is. It made sweeping concessions to management to persuade federal officials to undertake the investment of public money — and to keep the companies alive…The bottom line is that the strikers are fighting not only for greater fairness and a larger share of the company’s success but also for work itself. Too late to avert the strike, GM finally put an offer on the table to begin addressing some of these issues. But the rank and file are restive for more, and for good reason. Those of us who supported keeping GM alive a decade ago — and put our wallets where our mouths, pens and votes were — didn’t do so to make it easier for management to outsource jobs or hold down pay and benefits forever. Every Democratic candidate for president should be joining the UAW’s picket lines to drive that point home.”

From Kyle Kondik’s “The Electoral College: Expanding the Map” at Sabato’s Crystal Ball:
Map 1: Crystal Ball Electoral College ratings

Stanley Greenberg writes in his memo, “Sharp anti-Trump reaction consolidates and grows Democratic bloc” at Democracy Corps: “The public push back against President Trump has produced a level of political engagement the country has never seen before, an elevated anti-Trump Democratic Party consolidated to support the Democratic nominee, whether it is Vice President Biden or Senator Elizabeth Warren. They are defeating Trump by 9 and 7 points respectively, with the president stuck at 41 percent, his approval rating. Democrats are poised to push up the 8.6 percent Democratic margin in the 2018 mid-terms – a shattering result if achieved…The percent who say they are “extremely interested” in the election (the percent choosing 10, the top point on a 10-rung ladder) has reached 80 percent, the highest point in the history of our polling. That is what is actually most interesting about the finding. In all prior cycles, interest in politics drops sharply and grows over the election cycle, put political engagement has jumped 10 points since the mid-terms…Virtually, every registered voter now meets our criteria as “likely,” meaning this election will bring inmillions of new voters…With President Trump nationalizing the election around himself, he has gotten the result you would expect. Fully 85 percent of Democrats strongly disapprove of Trump’s performance as president, 20 points higher than the proportion of Republicans who strongly approve of the president. That drives the Democratic vote to 87 percent with the two leading candidates, with just 2 percent voting for Trump. Republicans are not as consolidated, with 11 percent voting Democratic if Biden and 6 percent, if Warren.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard did not meet the criteria for inclusion in the televised September Democratic debate. But she proved once again that she knows how to skewer an opponent, this time with her comment on Trump’s embarrassingly obsequious tweet that his white house is “waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!” Gabbard’s reply: “Trump awaits instructions from his Saudi masters. Having our country act as Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not “America First…”It’s a huge disgrace to hear our commander-in-chief basically put us in a position… where we are servants of the Saudi Kingdom,” she said.”

“It should be easy for Democrats to make sure that whenever Americans hear Trump’s name, “crook” is the first word that comes to mind,” Amanda marcotte writes in “Fighting Trump on corruption is a winning strategy — but Democrats must lean into it” at Salon.com. “But Democrats lack message discipline, so much so that they can’t even decide if this is a real impeachment inquiry or just some vague exercise in impeachment-curiosity. Meanwhile, Trump — with his stupid aptitude for blunt repetition as a rhetorical strategy — has turned “no collusion, no obstruction” into a literal catchphrase, even though there was both collusion and obstruction. Lewandowski spouted that motto like a robot on Tuesday, even though he literally testified to the obstruction under oath…Trump’s popularity is stuck around 42% in most polls, while his disapproval rarely dips below 52%. His only pathway to victory in 2020 lies in confusing voters about his corruption and likely criminality just enough so they momentarily forget how much they dislike him. Democrats can fight back, but only if they’re willing to organize around a strategy to keep Trump’s corruption front and center. So far they have failed. If they don’t catch up soon, there’s a real risk Trump wins another term — and stays away from indictment, prosecution and prison time.”

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