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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall discusses “flashing yellow lights Democrats may want to consider before proclaiming victory” in his column about Stanley Greenberg’s pediction of the collapse of the Republican Party in his book, “R.I.P. G.O.P.: How The New America Is Dooming the Republicans.”  Edsall addresses some of the challenges facing Democrats in building a working majority coalition that can both win elections and govern, and shares some provocative insights of political analysts, strategists and academics along the way. I liked strategist Paul Begala’s “I am deeply concerned about Democratic presidential candidates getting too far over their ski tips” and his urging them to “tell voters that Trump has proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. I did not hear one candidate raise that in the last Democratic debate, but it is the issue most likely to defeat Trump.”

Washington Post syndicaed columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains why “Trump’s conviction in the Senate is unlikely — but possible.” Dionne observes that “A Post-Schar School poll last week found 28 percent of Republicans supporting the House impeachment inquiry, while an astonishing 18 percent said they favored removing Trump from office…No matter how much Trump baits them, congressional Democrats have to combine toughness with sobriety…The nation, judging from the polls, is moving in their direction. This is not the result of any flights of rhetorical genius or brilliant political strategy. It’s happening because the more voters (including Republicans) know about what Trump actually did, the more they realize how unfit he is to be president…Of course House Democrats must fight Trump’s obstruction. But they cannot let him entangle them in abstruse debates over procedures. Their legitimate anger over the corrupt absurdity of the president’s claims should not move them toward theatrical excesses that will only give Trump more openings for deflection and evasion…And they must bear in mind that the final jury in The People v. Trump is still more likely to be an informed electorate than a supine and fearful U.S. Senate.”

At CNN politics Paul LeBlanc reports that “More than half of US voters want President Donald Trump impeached and removed from office, according to a Fox News Poll out on Wednesday.” However, adds LeBlanc, “The poll marks the fourth in two days that showed public opinion is shifting on the impeachment inquiry. Digging deeper, “The Fox News poll found 51% of registered voters want Trump impeached and removed from office and another 4% want the President impeached but not removed from office. Forty percent of respondents were opposed to impeachment altogether…The poll also showed an increase in support for impeachment across a number of demographics compared with July. Support for impeachment was up 11 points among Democrats, 5 points among Republicans and 3 points among independents…Impeachment support was up 5 points among evangelical Christians and 8 points among white men without college degrees — two constituencies key to Trump’s 2016 election.”

So, “What’s Behind Elizabeth Warren’s Rise In The Polls?” At FiveThirtEight, Geoffrey Skelley shares “Four possible explanations for her upward trajectory,” including “in Quinnipiac’s latest survey, Warren had 26 percent support among non-college whites, which put her in a near-tie with Biden at 27 percent and ahead of Sanders’s 19 percent. By comparison, in Quinnipiac’s late-August survey, Warren had 20 percent to Biden’s 30 percent among non-college whites and was roughly tied with Sanders, who had 19 percent support among that group…Fox News also found a slight improvement in Warren’s support among white voters without a college degree in its September survey: 19 percent support, compared to 15 percent in August, and she now sits just 5 percentage points behind Biden. Granted, these aren’t huge shifts we’re talking about — and we should be cautious with reading too much into the crosstabs because they have larger margins of error than the overall sample — but the trend has been consistent across a number of recent polls. Monmouth also found Warren’s support among voters (of all races) without a four-year degree went up from 17 percent in August to 24 percent in late September.”

“It would be foolish for Democrats to pin hopes for 2020 on carrying Texas,” Matthew Yglesias writes at Vox. “Still, Texas is a very large and diverse state that contains plenty of opportunities for progressive politics — which could have real impacts on many people’s lives. The key for Democrats is to have realistic expectations to participate intelligently and effectively.” in his Senate race, Yglesias notes, “O’Rourke lost by 3 percentage points, doing about 6 points better than Clinton did in Texas in 2016. But House Democrats won the national popular vote by 8 percentage points — also 6 points better than Clinton…That’s not to deny that O’Rourke ran an impressive race — taking on an incumbent senator is difficult, especially in a larger, expensive state with minimal party infrastructure. But that impressive race confirms that the only way Texas is in play in 2020 is if the national political environment amounts to a huge Democratic landslide, the equivalent of Barack Obama randomly winning Indiana in 2008 along with all the actual swing states.”

Yglesias continues, “Opportunities start with the US House of Representatives, where Democrats picked up two seats in tough 2018 races…They have one excellent pickup opportunity in the border district being vacated by Rep. Will Hurd and a couple of other long shots that are at least plausible…That’s a critical congressional battleground for 2020.What’s more, due to what looks in retrospect like the unintended consequences of gerrymandering, O’Rourke actually carried a majority of districts in the lower house of the Texas state legislature. Democrats need to pick up nine seats there to flip the chamber, which is unquestionably a tall order. But given O’Rourke’s results, it’s not out of the question that it could happen…After the 2020 Census, Texas is going to get at least two and possibly three new US House seats. If Democrats were able to win a state legislative chamber and have a seat at the redistricting table, that would be a huge opportunity. And even if they don’t, there’s just no way to avoid drawing some of those new seats into Texas’ newly competitive suburban landscape…The key, though, is to recognize that while these are winnable races, we are talking about constituencies that are more conservative than the US average — places where successful progressive candidates would need to pick their battles carefully, rather than signing on to the entire laundry list of activist demands. That’s especially true because every governor’s mansion can be contestable, as long as you’re willing to be realistic about it.”

Yglesias adds that  “there is no state with a larger pool of uninsured people than Texas, and the failure to expand Medicaid there is the reason. Winning a governor’s race there and expanding Medicaid is the critical element to dramatically expanding health coverage in the United States, as well as dozens of other topics that are critical to Texas’s large low-income population…Getting the job done, though, would require recognizing that winning statewide races in Texas is an uphill battle for Democrats, who aren’t going to carry the state with a message as progressive as could be viable nationally. The state has become moderate enough that it’d be a shame not to make a serious effort to win in down-ballot races, but it’s not nearly blue enough to just throw caution to the wind. Texas is a Texas-sized opportunity for progressive causes, but to seize it requires realism as much as enthusiasm.”

In his Washington Monthly post, “The Voting Wars Come to Campus,” Daniel Block writes “In New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, and Arizona—all presidential battlegrounds—Republican-controlled legislatures have created particular obstacles for college voters. And yet, in the midst of this clampdown, there are clear signs that students and schools are surmounting voting barriers and countering their impact—and not just in Texas. At Arizona State University in Tempe, for example, despite a restrictive voter ID law and new limits on mail-in ballot collection, student voting rates went up by double digits between 2012 and 2016...That’s because at institutions like UT Austin and ASU Tempe, students and staff work to make registering and voting as easy as possible, even as Texas and Arizona have made it harder. They find new, creative ways of registering students. They explain complex voting requirements. They work with local officials to increase polling access on campus. In doing so, they are supported by a growing network of national organizations that provide funding, share information, and help schools develop plans to simplify getting out the vote. (The Washington Monthly incorporates data from these organizations in its college rankings. Both UT Austin and ASU Tempe received perfect scores.)…These efforts appear to be making a difference. Nationwide, college voting rates increased by more than three percentage points between 2012 and 2016, more than the overall turnout increase. Between 2014 and 2018, youth turnout rose by nearly a third.”

At The American Prospect, Robert Reich spotlights some of the false choices he believes Democrats are arguing about heading into the 2020 elections. “Something else I’m hearing is that the contest is between someone who’s a moderate and a candidate who’s on the left. Well, that’s rubbish. All the babble about moderate or left assumes we’re back in the old politics where the central question was the size of government…But today the real contest is between the people and the powerful—the vast majority of Americans versus an oligarchy that’s amassed most of the nation’s wealth and power…So don’t accept false choices about who’s electable versus who has ideas, who’s moderate versus who’s on the left, or whether we need to go back to the way it was before Trump…In reality, what’s going to beat Trump are new ideas that mobilize America, that let Americans see what the wealthy and powerful who bankroll Trump have done to this nation, and get us looking forward to what America should be rather than backward to an America that was never as good as it could be.”

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