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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Charlie Cook explains “Why Impeachment Remains a Dangerous Road for Dems” at The Cook Political Report: “Let’s also put aside the reality that given the hyper-partisan and tribal nature of American politics today, the chances of securing 67 votes to convict and remove Trump from office are precisely zero. It isn’t clear that there will be three Republican votes to convict, forget the 17 more GOP senators needed. There is no tolerance for dissent in the Republican Party today; just ask former Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake and former Rep. Mark Sanford. The Republican members who are not afraid of Trump himself are still terrified of his supporters…When Democrats are trying to win a presidential election on Nov. 3—that’s 390 days from now, while early voting begins less than a year from now and candidate filing deadlines begin in less than two months—is this trip necessary? The distraction of impeachment politics erodes the abilities of the Democratic presidential candidates to get their messages across, to bond with voters in a meaningful way. For Democrats, if there is any chance of this distracting from or undercutting the messaging of their candidates, can they really justify this?…Democrats should just sit back and enjoy watching Republicans in competitive and potentially competitive House districts and Senate races simmer with a president at the top of their ticket doing everything he possibly can to drive away swing voters.”

Just when you thought Trump had surely maxed out on jaw-dropping hipocrisy and arrogant disrespect of the nation’s laws, the “White House announces President Trump will host next year’s G7 summit at his Miami golf resort,” Igor Derysh reports at Salon. “Next year’s G7 summit will be held at President Trump’s National Doral Miami golf club, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney revealed Thursday at a press briefing…The move poses Trump in direct odds with the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits presidents from profiting off of foreign governments. Nonetheless, Mulvaney claimed that Trump would not personally profit from the massive international event “in any way, shape or form…Mulvaney’s announcement came as Trump has continued to push a debunked conspiracy theory that former Vice President Joe Biden’s family profited off his vice presidency…And Doral has been struggled since Trump’s presidential run. Profits at the resort have fallen by 69 percent over the last three years. “They are severely underperforming,” a consultant hired by Trump told officials last year in an attempt to lower the property’s tax bill.”

Speaking of arrogance, check out “The man who rigged America’s election maps: How Tom Hofeller shifted the balance of power by taking gerrymandering to the extreme” by Alvin Chang, who writes at Vox, “For most of his life, few people knew Thomas Hofeller’s name…But for decades, Hofeller was the Republican Party’s most influential mapmaker. When it came time to redraw districts, Hofeller not only knew how to churn the data and work with the software — but he also knew exactly how this power could be used…In 1991, Hofeller said, “I define redistricting as the only legalized form of vote-stealing left in the United States today.”…Then a decade later, he said, “Redistricting is like an election in reverse. It’s a great event. Usually the voters get to pick the politicians. In redistricting, the politicians get to pick the voters.”

Among the many moving tributes to Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, The Nation’s John Nichols observesThere are progressive members of Congress who cast good votes in favor of economic and social and racial justice and peace and the planet, and who understand this to be the purpose of their service. Then there are members of Congress who see those good votes as the starting point for a service that embraces struggles and engages with movements outside the Capitol…House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chairman Elijah Cummings, who died Thursday morning at age 68, was one of those activist members. He is being honored for his able work on the congressional committee that is charged with holding the powerful to account. But it should be remembered, as well, that he spent an extraordinary amount of time on picket lines and at rallies, at worksites and in union halls with workers who have had few congressional allies so diligent and determined as the Baltimore Democrat.” Cummings also had a gift for inspiring soundbites, which Democratic candidates could emulate to good effect, as Nichols shares: “Those at the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior. It only creates more division among us, and severely limits our ability to work together for the common good,” Cummings declared in an August 7 speech at the National Press Club.”

Amid the growing chorus of criticism of Trump’s policies by military leaders, you would be hard-pressed to find a more searing indictment than the comments of  retired Admiral William McRaven, architect of the bin Laden raid, quoted here by CNN’s Paul LeBlanc: “If you want to destroy an organization, any organization, you destroy it from within, you destroy it from without and then what you do is you convince everybody that you’re doing the right thing,” McRaven told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead…So when you take a look at what the President has done, he’s undermined the intelligence community, the law enforcement community, the Department of Justice, the State Department. He has called the press the enemy of the American people…”He’s obviously left our allies the Kurds on the battlefield,” McRaven said while outlining a scathing op-ed he wrote for The New York Times. “We feel like we’ve betrayed them. He’s undermined our NATO allies, he’s taken us out of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran nuclear agreement) and the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal) and really the international community has lost faith in America. And then throughout the course of all of this, he’s convinced us he’s doing it for all the right reasons, and I think that is really what is troubling……if this president doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, both domestically and abroad, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office — Republican, Democrat or independent — the sooner, the better,” he wrote. “The fate of our Republic depends upon it.”

New York Times columnist Thomas B. Edsall warns that “Trump Is Winning the Online War: The technical superiority and sophistication of the president’s digital campaign is a hidden advantage of incumbency.” As Edsall writes, “For all his negative poll numbers and impeachment-related liabilities, President Trump has a decisive advantage on one key election battleground: the digital campaign. Under the management of Brad Parscale, the Trump re-election machine has devoted millions more than any individual Democrat to increasingly sophisticated microtargeting techniques…In addition, Trump and Parscale are likely to deploy every available tool to suppress turnout for the Democratic nominee via carefully targeted messages to those who dissent from one or more planks of the Democratic platform.” Edsall notes that currently, “Trump’s $15.9 million is more than the $15.5 million spent by the top three Democratic candidates combined.”

Edsall continues “Republican and conservative groups understand that “digital content is the point, not the window dressing,” Lindsay Holst, director of digital strategy in the Obama White House, told Vanity Fair. “We’re lacking the necessary volume of emotional messaging that appeals to people as human beings, not as data points…Peter Hamby, the author of the Vanity Fair article Holst appeared in, wrote that the right in 2016 was “flooding Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with memes, junk news, misleading statistics, and links designed to inflame voter sentiment around hot-button cultural issues like race, immigration, and identity. But Democrats, always on message, were sticking to paid advertising.”…“It was becoming clear that one side had weaponized the internet, and one side hadn’t,” Curtis Hougland, the founder of MainStreetOne, a liberal Democratic messaging firm, told Hamby. “Democrats want to focus on facts and figures. The other side plays into fears and taps into emotions, and they show it to you. It’s all about emotional resonance…Democrats have a shot at creating a digital infrastructure equal or equivalent to the one Republicans have built. But even if they manage that, will it have the emotional suppleness it needs to move voters?”

Harold Meyerson gives Democratic moderates a blistering critique in his article, “The Fierce Urgency of Less” at The American Prospect: “What underlies these theories of political change are empirically baseless assumptions of a Biden-esque variety—specifically, that more moderate proposals can win Republican support, as they did during Biden’s early years (the 1970s) in Congress. As anyone who’s been at least dimly conscious since the mid-1990s should be able to attest, that world, with that kind of Republican, has vanished tone and tint. Considering that the Affordable Care Act passed without a single Republican in either house voting for it, does Buttigieg really think he can win Republican votes for his own “Medicare for All Who Want It”?…If you don’t mobilize voters for ambitious change and use the bully pulpit to build support for major reforms, you can’t even get incremental fixes…At bottom, though, the aversions of Mayor Pete and Mayor Mike to the ambitious plans of Sanders and Warren aren’t strategic; they’re ideological and self-interested…So when the three B’s of Fighting for Less—Biden, Bloomberg, and Buttigieg—tell us to demand less, they are laying the groundwork for winning nothing. ”

Moody’s Analytics electoral model predctions of a Trump victory in 2020, based solely on economic indicators, is getting lots of buzz, and 2020 may prove to be the ultimate test of the ‘economics determines political destiny’ theory. Forget for a minute that Trump’s presidency is probing the limits of voter outrage nearly every day. There is still an overriding problem with using the Moody’s data, as Chris Cillizza explains at CNN Politics: “The biggest one, obviously, is the economy remaining, generally speaking, on its current course. “The top of the business cycle is a difficult place from which to forecast, and the economic outlook is filled with substantially more uncertainty than usual,” reads the Moody report on the models. “Under a moderate recession scenario, in which U.S. real GDP declines cumulatively by more than 2% over the next year, the average of our three models would point to a Democratic victory…The other major variable that could change the outlook projected by Moody’s is turnout. All of the scenarios above are dependent on average turnout for the non-incumbent’s party. If Democratic turnout soared — and the 2018 election suggests that very well could be the case — things would change drastically.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. pjcamp on

    Harold Meyerson is a schmeckle.

    Medicare For All polls around 20%. It is a massive loser. Medicare For All Who Want It polls around 80%. It is an equally massive winner.

    And for obvious reasons. When you screw around with something like health care, you screw around with people’s lives. Medicare itself took several years to get it to work right. Same thing with Obamacare.

    If you throw away everything we have and replace it with something that will take some years to get it to work right, people will die. This is a situation where incremental change is the only winning position.


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