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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At FiveThirtyEight, Dhrumil Mehta reports that “There have only been four polls so far since Trump announced he would withdraw troops from Syria, and while all four showed that mainly Americans oppose the withdrawal, there was a stark partisan split — Republican voters aren’t broadly opposed to Trump’s decision…However, we don’t want to read too much into Republican support for Trump’s decision to remove troops from Syria. And that’s because many Americans are still getting up to speed on the situation. Remember, in that YouGov/CBS News poll, a plurality of Americans said they didn’t know enough to say whether they supported removing troops from the region. And according to that Morning Consult/Politico poll, 40 percent of registered voters had heard either “nothing at all” or “not much” about the Turkish offensive (including 45 percent of Republicans, and 34 percent of Democrats). A third of voters also said they have heard little or nothing about the U.S. troop pullout. And that USA Today/Ipsos poll also found that 42 percent of Americans — including 45 percent of Republicans — had either not heard about the U.S. decision to withdraw troops or knew little about it.”

At The New Yorker, Eliza Grizwold spotlights on a new project, “Teaching Democrats to Speak Evangelical,” which includes “a training session for Democratic members of Congress on how to speak to evangelicals” lead by Rev. Doug Pagitt: Noting that, “In 2016, eighty-one per cent of white evangelicals voted for Trump; last year, in the midterm elections, seventy-five per cent of white evangelicals voted Republican,” Griswold writes that “Pagitt thinks that, among the Democratic Presidential candidates, for example, Elizabeth Warren is doing a good job of integrating faith seamlessly into her message, beginning sentences with phrases like “As a Sunday-school teacher . . .” and by singing the hymns from her conservative childhood church in a defense of same-sex marriage. Bernie Sanders seems to avoid speaking of religion—his own, Judaism, or that of others—at all costs. Cory Booker often speaks about God in generalizations that can feel bland. Some candidates seem willing to openly antagonize religious voters; last week, at a town-hall discussion on L.G.B.T.Q. issues, Beto O’Rourke said that he would revoke the tax-exempt status of religious institutions that oppose same-sex marriage—the first time a major Presidential candidate has stated such a position.”

Regarding the Democratic presidential candidates Ohio debate, In “Other Polling bites,” Mehta notes that “A FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll, which asked respondents to rate each candidates’ debate performance on a four-point scale, found that Sen. Elizabeth Warren was ranked highest by those who watched the debate. But South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg saw the largest increase in the share of voters who were considering voting for him before and after the debate — an increase of 4.5 percentage points.

In 2017, Virginia voters flipped 15 seats in the state legislture from red-to-blue. Right now, however, Democrats are only two seats and two weeks away from flipping each chamber of the Virginia state legislature, the narrowest margin in years. But the GOP’s sugar daddies are flooding the coffers of Republican candidates with money to stop Democrats. If Democrats pick up those two seats in the Virginia state senate and assembly, it will be the firrst time in 28 years that they have held majorities of both houses of the state legislature and the governorship, setting the stage for a new era of progressive reforms that will benefit all Virginians. Democrats who want to make a significant difference need not wait until 2020; A contribution to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee can help make a powerful difference in just two weeks. Dems are so close to turning Virginia solid blue, and it can happen with a little help from Democratic rank and file everywhere.

In light of the dust-up between 2016 Democratic presidential nomineee Hillary Clinton and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, it should be noted that Gabbard has denied that she will run as an Independent, if she fails to get the Democratic presidential nomination for 2020. But it wouldn’t be a bad idea for major media to query Gabbard — and every other Democratic presidential candidate in each debate, or at least debates before major primaries/caucuses, about their intentions to support the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020. Voters have a right to know how strong each candidate’s commitment to their party really is, and, more importantly, how candidate intentions square with preventing outside influence in our elections.

Charlie Cook has a sobering revelation for those who think they can win over voters who still support Trump: “Expecting Trump’s approval ratings to finally plunge is like waiting for preshrunk jeans to shrink. He had little in the way of a honeymoon period, and his approval ratings have fluctuated little, the whole while running pretty consistently below those of his predecessors. Thus, his numbers don’t have as much room to drop, as when bad news hit previous presidents. The voters who have already stuck with Trump through endless negative stories and developments since he took office are not likely to abandon him now. Those with the capacity for outrage were outraged long ago. “The Fifth Avenue people” will stick with him…The basic job-approval rating has proven to be the best single indicator of a sitting president’s political health. The narrow trading range for Trump’s approval rating since taking office shows little malleability” and “few voters are ambivalent, conflicted, or even open to having their minds changed with new information. He has a rock-solid floor beneath him but an equally strong, albeit low ceiling above him. Those expecting that floor to lower or that ceiling to rise are risking surprise, disappointment, or both.”

So how does it look for Democrats winning Ohio’s electoral votes next year? Kyle Kondik writes at Sabato’s Crystal Ball that “In late July, a Quinnipiac poll of Ohio found Trump’s approval rating with non-college whites was 53% approve, 42% disapprove; the pollster Civiqs, which is associated with the liberal website Daily Kos, pegs Trump’s approval with this group in Ohio at 58%/40%. If Trump’s actual electoral showing among non-college whites in Ohio next year were to mirror these approval ratings — a margin markedly lower than the 30-point gap he enjoyed in his favor in 2020 — the state would be back in play. However, if Trump replicates his 2016 showing with this group, only loses a little bit of backing, or actually improves his performance (as seems possible given the overall trajectory of this group of voters), the state probably isn’t winnable for the Democrats…So if the question is can the Democratic presidential nominee win Ohio in 2020, the answer is yes, depending on Trump’s standing with non-college whites (and other factors).”

In his post, “Beyond those dumb debates: To win, Democrats must reframe the discussion about America’s future” at Salon, Paul Rosenberg raises a frequently-overlooked concern about the way moderate Democratic presidential candidates are framing the health care reform discussion: Rosenberg writes that, in Ohio last week, “the debate’s moderators “kicked off a lengthy health care discussion rooted deeply in the Republican framing about how much we’ll have to raise taxes to pay for Medicare for All.” Nowhere was it ever even hinted that Medicare for All was the original vision underlying Medicare, introduced by Harry Truman in November 1945. When Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar attack it, they are repeating GOP attacks first launched more than 70 years ago. Despite decades of blather about the “liberal media,” this is just one example of how Republican-friendly framing has dominated political discourse in the media for generations. And part of what’s at stake in the 2020 Democratic primary is the fight to bring that to an end.” That’s not to say that Democratic candidates need not explain how Medicare for All would be funded; They do need to be more specific about taxes, and also especially about how long it would take to implement the proposal. But Biden, Klobuchar and Buttigieg all know that the Sanders plan would also mean huge overall cost savings to consumers from eliminating premiums, out-of-pocket outlays, advertising, duplication of administrative costs, price gouging etc. Polls do show that ‘Medicare for All’ is a very tough sell at the moment, and that ‘Medicare for All Who Want It’ is much more popular. But Dems should be a little more wary of simplistic parroting of Republican talking points.

If you are among those who wince when a non-Latino political candidate tries to show off his/her Spanish-speaking skills, take note of Denise-Marie Ordway’s article, “White Democrats less likely to support presidential candidates who court Latino voters, experimental research suggests” at Journalist Resource, which notes that “prior research has shown that targeted outreach to Latinos — using the Spanish language or explicitly directing certain messages to Latinos and their families — benefits political candidates. It results in higher Latino voter turnout as well as increased support for candidates who court Latinos, who, according to the Pew Research Center, will be the largest racial or ethnic minority group in the electorate in 2020…A record 32 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in the next presidential election, show projections that Pew reported early this week.”

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